Writing a post on Kiwi words and phrases is something I’ve wanted to do for no reason other than it’s kind of fun! A lot of Kiwi vocabulary comes from the Brits, but many words have their own New Zealand twist to them. Here are 24 popular words and phrases I’ve picked up during my time here.

Me with my Kiwi flatmates
  1. Sweet asThis can mean multiple things, but Kiwis usually use it as a simple “okay” or interchangeably with “awesome.” It is basically an unfinished simile. For example, “Wow, that mountain is sweet as!”
  2. Yeah-nah  It is similar to feeling indifferent about something or agreeing halfheartedly.  It is like saying, “kind of.”
  3. Lollies – Any candy is considered a lolly. It is not only short for lollipop.
  4. The dairy – A convenience or corner store
  5. Ice block – A popsicle
  6. Togs – A bathing suit
  7. Chilly bin – A cooler
  8. Boot – The trunk of a car
  9. Pudding – Another way of referring to dessert. If you are thinking of an American-style pudding, Kiwis use the word “mousse”.
  10. Car park – A parking lot.
  11. Biscuit – This is not the same as the small baked bread. Here in New Zealand, a biscuit is a cookie.
  12. Chips  French fries. Potato chips are referred to as “crisps”, Kiwis will also call a snack like Doritos a “corn chip”.
  13. Jandal – Flip flops
  14. Vest – A tank top
  15. Kiwifruit – The actual fruit. If you say, “I ate a kiwi,” the locals might think you are talking about the bird.
  16. Tramp – It’s not what you’re thinking! In New Zealand, a tramp is known as a hike.
  17. Morning/afternoon tea – This means coffee or tea, usually with a snack.
  18. Jelly – This is not the condiment you put on a PB&J. In New Zealand, jelly is jello. Jam is what we consider jelly.
  19. What do you reckon? – What do you think/prefer/suppose?
  20. Rubbish – We all know what the rubbish is, but you won’t ever catch a Kiwi saying trash or garbage. Typically, they will tell you to chuck it in the bin or the rubbish.
  21. Tea towel – Pretty self-explanatory but where I come from a tea towel is just a towel or a dish towel.
  22. Dodgy – Something a Kiwi might consider sketchy or unreliable.
  23. Heaps – Equivalent to saying “a lot”. For example, “There were heaps of lollies on sale at the supermarket.”
  24. Eh – Pronounced like the letter “a”. Most of the time, it is used when expecting a response such as, “That sandwich is good, eh?” 

Michelle Dukette is a TEAN Alum and student at University of Rhode Island. She studied abroad with TEAN in Auckland, New Zealand.