• A Dag in A Waka: A Travel English Guide for New Zealand

    New Zealand is famous for its extreme sports, indigenous people called maori and All Blacks rugby team with their pre-game war dance called the haka.

    However, New Zealand is also known for its particular way of speaking English which has influences from nearby Australia, Britain (its former colonizer) and also local Maori vocabulary.

    Don’t feel overwhelmed. These different elements make the English spoken in New Zealand a just a little different rather than complicated.

    Here is a short travel English vocabulary guide to help you out:

    Food and drink

    Breakfast might be referred to as brekkie.

    A cooler to keep food cold is called a chilly bin.

    A gathering with friends or family with food might be called a bun fight.

    A soft drink is called fizzy.

    A sandwich is called a sarnie.

    If you are invited to a social event where you have to bring your own food, you will be told to bring your own plate.


    A sweater is called a jersey.

    Beach sandals or flip-flops are called jandals.

    A raincoat is called an oilskin.

    A swimsuit is called togs.


    A friendly conversation between friends is called a yack.

    A person who is slightly weird or eccentric or a comedian might be called a dag.

    If someone is happy, they are said to be chuffed.

    If someone is tired they are fagged out.

    If someone wants you to leave them alone, they might say naff off!

    If you are lying you are said to be spinning.


    You will hear native New Zealanders referred to as kiwis (after an indigenous bird of the same name).

    People from New Zealand’s south island are called mainlanders.

    If something is great it is said to be a beaut (i.e. short for beauty). It might also be said to be flash.

    If life is going well, everything is said to be hunky dory.

    You might hear a convenience store called a dairy.

    A child is referred to as a sprog.

    Somebody who thinks they’re great and loves to show off is called a skiter.

    Portable telephones are called cellphones.

    A holiday home (generally a small one) is called a crib.

    To steal is called to flog.

    An apartment is called a flat.

    To vomit is said to chunder.

    A university student could be called a scarfie.

    Any kind of vehicle might be called a waka.

    A we learn vocabulary for New Zealand, let’s listen to two of New Zealand’s most famous musical exports, The Finn Brothers (from the band Crowded House) with their solo project Won’t Give In.

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