10 things to know about NEW ZEALAND before you visit

New Zealand-streettrotter

We are NOT Australia. New Zealand is NOT an island off the coast of Australia. In fact, we are an island nation in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Unlike Australia, New Zealand is not stinking hot, and we don’t have any animals that can kill you, which is a bonus! New Zealand is 100% independent from Australia, and like any country we have our own customs, culture and history.

You are best to get around by car (or campervan)!

New Zealand-streettrotterNew Zealand has buses and trains, yes, but if you really want to explore the country in depth, the best way is really to hire a campervan or a car. There is so much to see and do in New Zealand that there is really no reason to stick to touristic sights.

The population is very low

New Zealand has one of the lowest population densities in the world, and it is definitely noticeable. In New Zealand, you can drive for ages without seeing a single other car. You can find pristine, beautiful beaches that are completely isolated. Some people get a bit freaked out by the quiet, others love the peacefulness. Either way, just be prepared.

New Zealand-streettrotter

New Zealanders are relaxed

Don’t be alarmed if you see people walking around the streets barefoot, dogs running around with no leash, or valuable possessions lying around. Truth is, we live a very ‘lax lifestyle and don’t worry too much about anything. Our catch phrase is ‘she’ll be right!’

Yes, we speak English, but we have our own slang

A few phrases you should know to understand New Zealand talk:

  • ‘JAFA’ is a term you won’t hear too much in Auckland but it is a word the rest of the country use to describe Aucklanders. It’s an acronym for ‘Just Another F**king Aucklander’. This stems from the fact that Auckland is the country’s largest city and around ¼ of the New Zealand population resides in Auckland.
  • A ‘kiwi’ is a word we use to refer to ourselves as New Zealanders, and is also the name of our native bird.
  • ‘Togs’ is our word for swimsuit or bathing suit.
  • ‘Jandals’ is our word for flip flops.

Maori is the other official language

Some Maori words are also used on a daily basis alongside the English. To get you started, ‘kia ora’ means hello, ‘whanau’ (pronounced fano) means family, and ‘kai’ means food!

Our economy is driven mostly by the dairy industry

Outside of cities, the whole country is full of dairy farms which means endless rolling green hills and valleys almost anywhere you go. But that doesn’t mean you are going to find meat and dairy products for cheap.New Zealand-streettrotter

Things are expensive

New Zealand is pretty far away from most countries in the world, so things that make their way here are generally and pretty inflated prices. In terms of eating out, buying retail and also, buying flights to and from the country, be prepared to pay top dollar. But I would argue that it is worth it.

Maori culture and history is prominent

The Maoris are the original indigenous group that inhabited New Zealand. Long story short, the Europeans made an agreement with the Maoris called the Treaty of Waitangi, and now we live together in peace! There is a lot of land that is still sacred Maori land that they have the rights to, so make sure you are respectful if you are enjoying a Maori-owned land. There are plenty of places in New Zealand where you can learn all about their language, history and culture.

New Zealand is made up of 3 main islands

The three major islands are known as North Island, South Island and Stewart Island. The majority of the population resides in the North.The North Island is better to explore in Summer as it can get nice and warm.New Zealand-streettrotter

The South island where you are more likely to find those totally isolated parts. It is bigger in land mass and has 1/3 of the people. The South Island and Stuart Island are also a lot cooler, and better to visit in Winter.

New Zealand-streettrotter


About the Author: Suzie is a passionate traveller with particular interest in learning languages and using different languages to communicate around the globe. She started her blog – thewanderinglinguist to cater to other budding language learners and inspire people to expand their bubble when they travel.


Want to know more fun facts about different countries around world? Read the links below!