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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Living in New Zealand

We may be a little biased, but we think living in New Zealand is pretty damn fantastic. No matter where you reside in New Zealand, life is fairly cool. With over 15,000 kilometers of coastline, no matter where you reside, you are never too far from the ocean. We have an abundance of national and provincial parks alive with wonderful animals and flora.

Of course, our affection for Aotearoa does not blind us completely. We understand that not everything in New Zealand is perfect, which is why we put together this piece to cover some of the most important things you need to know about living in New Zealand – the good, the bad, and the…well, let’s face it, there is no ugly in New Zealand!

Here are 10 things you need to know about living in New Zealand…just so you’re nice and prepared!

The freedom of the feet! – living in New Zealand

That’s correct. This can be difficult for many international visitors. People will practically go about barefoot. Bars, restaurants…even a supermarket! It appears strange the first few times you see it, and it certainly feels weird the first time you try it, especially in the store. But you get used to it and finally come to accept it.

New Zealand produces the best coffee in the world.


Okay, so this is a very bold assertion, but we researched (Googled it) and it appears to be true! While we are prone to extolling our coffee’s virtues, our numerous overseas guests share our enthusiasm. We’re not sure what’s so special about it. It tastes very delicious. It’s a fantastic way to start the day. Knowing that you can very much walk into any café in New Zealand and get a great cup of coffee.

Card is unquestionably king – living in New Zealand

Never, ever ask a Kiwi to lend you money. We’re not in a hurry. Not at all. It’s just that none of us has cash on us. Ever. We use our cash cards wherever we go, unless we have to catch a bus (and even then, we can typically use some form of card). Paying via card is commonly referred to as ‘Eftpos’ in New Zealand, and it’s rather fantastic. There’s no need to lug around all that loose coinage… Simply slap it on the card.

There are no tips.

There is no tipping culture in New Zealand. We have a very good minimum wage, which means that no matter where you work, you will be compensated fairly for your efforts. That’s not to suggest tips aren’t appreciated; after all, who doesn’t appreciate being told they’re doing a good job? However, you need never feel awful about not leaving a tip because we don’t anticipate one. It’s a great relief not to have to think about a tip, which may be stressful. We’ve even been known to pursue customers who leave a tip because we believe they’ve dropped some cash!

Kiwi slang is fantastic.


We have a lot of colloquialisms, like other countries, and our lingo appears to confound many of our international guests. Some of the most perplexing are:

Lollies are a catch-all phrase for all sweets.
Hot chips – the ‘hot’ park is essential since we refer to ‘crisps’ as chips, therefore if you want true chips with your burger, remember the ‘hot’ part.
Jandals – whether you call them flip flops or thongs (strange Aussies! ), summer beach footwear is known as jandals in New Zealand.
Togs – a term that refers to both male and female swimming attire.

Place names are difficult to pronounce.

Okay, not all location names are difficult to pronounce, but many are. While it’s amusing to hear visitors say some of our place names, it’s also true that a sizable proportion of Kiwis struggle with some of them! The most common misunderstanding source is place names that begin with ‘Wh.’ In general, the ‘Wh’ is pronounced as a ‘F,’ which drastically alters how the name is spoken. ‘Whakapapa’ is a favorite example… We can hear the clogs ticking and then everyone realizes, “Ah…’Fackapapa'” – whoops!


Whether you enjoy stargazing or not, whether you move to New Zealand or spend a lot of time here, the night skies will always take your breath away. Unless you spend your entire time in Auckland, the night sky in New Zealand is crystal clear due to a lack of light pollution. We even have one of the world’s first Dark Sky Reserves in the Mt Cook region, which is rated as one of the best sites to stargaze in the world. Take a look up into the night sky the next time you’re here and be astounded by the number of stars you can see.


This one is a touch divisive, but we’re sticking to our guns. For a long time, New Zealand was regarded as the first place in the globe to greet the new day. That is, until Samoa opted to change its location on the International Date Line. Their day now coincides with that of Australia and New Zealand, where they conduct the majority of their business. Now, due to some strange earthly occurrence, while Samoa is the first place in the globe to greet each new day, New Zealand is still the first place to see it.


Many international visitors are astounded by how slow our internet is (try visiting 8 years ago when dial-up was still available!). We are making great leaps and bounds with our internet speeds and a lot of regions do now have access to Fibre, nevertheless, in many rural parts of New Zealand, internet connectivity can certainly still be dog sluggish. This is because we are at the end of the underwater internet pipe, which means we are at the end of the line regarding fast internet.

Oh well, it’s good that everything outside is so lovely that you won’t need much time on the internet.


You see, not everything you needed to know was positive, which is one of the drawbacks of living in New Zealand. Every year, thousands of earthquakes occur (most of them are so minor that no one notices them), and the first one can be rather shocking. They say that New Zealand is in danger of a possibly massive earthquake in the not-too-distant future. Still, we are quite excellent at taking measures, and plenty of information is accessible if you reside in more dangerous places.

Top super unique things in New Zealand

Maris Lopez
Maris Lopezhttp:////
Hey there! I'm Maris, an American girl who is passionate about adventure, the outdoors and all things travel!


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