1: There is no such thing as Kiwi central heating
In New Zealand, most houses are built single glazed and without central heating. The usual means of heating is a solid-fuel fire, and you’ll want to stoke it before you go to bed because otherwise, you’ll be able to see your breath when you wake up in winter. Kiwis will just tell you to ‘put your woollies on’- not the advice we’re used to in the UK or, even more so, the USA!
2: New Zealand has its own slang and it is impenetrable to outsiders
Because the Kiwi accent is usually less strong than the Australian, it’s easy to forget that the language has had a while to develop in its own way. Kiwi language is loaded with fun expressions to describe activities and people, many of which require a double take the first time you hear them. ‘She’ll be right, mate’is familiar from the more widely-known Australian dialect, but when was the last time you heard someone indicate the copacetic by, ‘it’s like a box of fluffy ducks’?
3: Kiwis have their own relationship with the letter ‘R.’
If you’re an American reading this, you might think that you’ll be fine with ‘R’s showing up on the ends of words where british people don’t put them. If you’re British, you might think you’re OK with ‘super’becoming ‘supa’- after all, that’s how you’ve always said it. But in New Zealand, it’s supa to be on a peninsularrrrr. Brrrace yourself.
4: They put odd things on food
In the USA, burgers come with a pickle, which you remove and discard before eating. In the UK, burgers come with mayo or relish. In New Zealand, burgers come with lettuce, tomato, mayo, beetroot and a fried egg, and each component is considered necessary.
5: Children in New Zealand don’t wear shoes
Kiwi kids pretty much just don’t wear shoes. Until you start school, in New Zealand you go barefoot and many kids go barefoot summer long too. In fact, the barefoot trend spreads so far that not only will kids wear nothing on their feet to the doctor’the zoo, the shop, restaurants, and basically everywhere else, but some schools make a provision for being barefoot as part of their uniform policy.
6: New Zealand food sizes are way off
Imagine a country that’s marginal for arable agriculture but a major producer of dairy and sheep meat. Now imagine what food portions would be like there. That’s New Zealand. Most things are smaller than Americans are used to, certainly, and sometimes smaller than we’re used to in the UK. But the butter comes in 500g blocks or above.
7: Cheese. Just cheese
Britain has a long tradition of local cheeses. Even in small supermarket franchises in out of the way places, you can usually find cheddar, red Leicester and maybe a crumbly Wensleydale. America has its many immigrant communities to thank for its culinary diversity. But New Zealand has a two-tier cheese system: artisanal hand-made cheeses, and the three traditional new Zealand cheeses. In the words of native writer Joe Bennet, ‘Colby is bland, Medium is bland, and Tasty, well, you can taste it.’Americans trying to cook Mac and cheese are horrified to find that New Zealand cheese doesn’t melt either.