101 New Zealand Slang Terms: Learn the Kiwi Lingo

New Zealand, a picturesque island nation in the South Pacific, is home to diverse landscapes, unique wildlife, and a rich cultural heritage. It’s also the birthplace of a distinct dialect, Kiwi English, which boasts an array of colorful slang terms that have left many visitors scratching their heads. This fascinating linguistic journey we’re about to embark on will take you through 101 of the most popular and intriguing Kiwi slang terms that are sure to make you feel like a true local.

From the Maori name for New Zealand, Aotearoa, to the ever-popular greeting “G’day,” Kiwi slang reflects the nation’s rich history, diverse influences, and the laid-back nature of its people. Whether it’s a casual afternoon (arvo) barbecue (barbie) with mates or a trip to the local dairy (convenience store) for some snacks, you’ll find that New Zealanders have a way with words that sets them apart from their English-speaking counterparts.

While some Kiwi slang terms have clear British, Australian, or American influences, many others are derived from the Maori language, showcasing the deep respect and connection between the indigenous Maori people and the wider New Zealand society. For example, you’ll come across terms like “kai” (food), “waka” (canoe or boat), and “whakapapa” (genealogy, family history) as you explore Kiwi slang.

However, it’s not just the Maori influence that makes New Zealand’s linguistic landscape so unique. The country’s isolation and rugged environment have also given rise to some truly original slang terms. For instance, “jandals” (flip-flops), “gumboots” (rubber boots), and “tramping” (hiking, trekking) are all words that you’re unlikely to encounter outside of New Zealand.

As you delve deeper into the world of Kiwi slang, you’ll discover that many expressions perfectly capture the friendly and humorous nature of New Zealanders. Terms like “sweet as” (all good, no problem), “choice” (great, excellent), and “she’ll be right” (everything will be okay) embody the positive and resilient spirit of the Kiwi people.

Whether you’re planning a move to NZ, the land of the long white cloud or just curious about the unique lingo spoken by its inhabitants, our comprehensive guide to 101 Kiwi slang terms is sure to enrich your understanding and appreciation of New Zealand’s linguistic and cultural tapestry. So, buckle up, mate, and let’s dive into the fascinating world of Kiwi slang!

Kiwi Slang TermTranslation / Meaning
1. AotearoaNew Zealand (Maori name)
2. ArvoAfternoon
3. BachHoliday home
4. BarbieBarbecue
5. BikkieBiscuit
6. BlokeMan, guy
7. BogansUncultured or unsophisticated people
8. BootTrunk (of a car)
9. Box of birdsFeeling good or content
10. BrekkieBreakfast
11. BroFriend, mate
12. BuggerA mild expletive, an expression of annoyance or surprise
13. BYOBring Your Own (typically referring to alcohol at a party)
14. CapsicumBell pepper
15. Chilly binCooler, insulated box to keep food and drinks cold
16. ChockaFull, crowded
17. ChookChicken
18. ChunderTo vomit
19. CuzCousin or close friend
20. DairyConvenience store
21. DoleUnemployment benefit
22. DunnyToilet
23. EskyCooler, insulated box to keep food and drinks cold
24. FlatApartment, rental property
25. FootyRugby or football game
26. G’dayHello, good day
27. GumbootsRubber boots
28. Hard yakkaHard work
29. HeapsA lot, many
30. HoonTo drive fast and recklessly
31. JandalsFlip-flops, thongs
32. JerseySweater, jumper
33. Judder barSpeed bump
34. KaiFood (Maori)
35. KeenEager, interested
36. KiwiNew Zealander or flightless bird native to New Zealand
37. KnackeredTired, exhausted
38. L&PLemon & Paeroa, a popular NZ soft drink
39. LarrikinA person with a carefree, mischievous, or irreverent attitude
40. LooToilet
41. Mates ratesDiscounted prices for friends
42. MuntedBroken, damaged, or ruined
43. NaffLame, uncool
44. Nek minnitNext minute, expressing a sudden change
45. NippersYoung children
46. No worriesNo problem, don’t worry about it
47. OEOverseas Experience, a period of extended travel
48. On the pissGoing out drinking
49. PakehaNon-Maori New Zealander
50. PavlovaA meringue-based dessert with fruit and whipped cream
51. PikerA person who quits or backs out of a commitment
52. Piss upA party or gathering with alcohol
53. PounamuGreenstone, NZ jade (Maori)
54. PressiePresent, gift
55. PukuStomach or belly (Maori)
56. Rark upTo provoke, tease or annoy someone
57. Rattle ya dagsHurry up, get moving
58. ReckonTo think, believe or agree
59. RingaHand (Maori)
60. RortA scam, rip-off or dishonest act
61. RopeableVery angry, furious
62. SangerSandwich
63. ScrogginTrail mix, a mixture of nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate
64. ServoService station, gas station
65. She’ll be rightEverything will be okay
66. ShoutTo treat or buy something for someone (e.g., a drink)
67. SkiteTo brag or boast
68. SkuxStylish or good-looking
69. SookA person who complains or acts overly sensitive
70. SoutherlyA cold wind from the south
71. Spat the dummyTo lose one’s temper, throw a tantrum
72. StubbiesShort, tight-fitting shorts
73. StokedVery happy, pleased
74. SwannieSwanndri, a NZ brand of outdoor clothing
75. Sweet asAll good, no problem
76. TaThank you
77. Ta mokoTraditional Maori tattoo
78. TakeawaysFast food, typically to go
79. Tall poppyA successful person who is resented or envied
80. TaniwhaA supernatural creature in Maori mythology
81. Tiki tourA scenic or roundabout route
82. TogsSwimsuit
83. TrampingHiking, trekking
84. TuckerFood
85. TurpsAlcohol, especially beer
86. Two-fourA case of 24 beers
87. UteUtility vehicle, pickup truck
88. WakaCanoe or boat (Maori)
89. WellyWellington, the capital city of New Zealand
90. WestieSomeone from West Auckland, often seen as less refined
91. WhakapapaGenealogy, family history (Maori)
92. WhingeTo complain, whine
93. Wop-wopsA remote, rural area
94. Yeah nahA non-committal response, can mean yes or no
95. YarnA conversation or story, often casual or informal
96. YonksA long time, ages
97. ZedThe pronunciation of the letter ‘Z’ in New Zealand English
98. Zip itTo be quiet, stop talking
99. ZonkedExhausted, worn out
100. TikiA carved figure, often made of greenstone or bone (Maori)
101. ChoiceGreat, excellent, a positive affirmation
by Maiane Cassanego
Maiane is the Founder of Expat Frontier. She is fluent in English, Portuguese and Spanish. Maiane has an extensive background in international moving, freight forwarding and logistics.