The Expat Hub

New Zealand’s Phrases

New Zealanders may use English as their main language but don’t count on living in the country without hearing some odd sounding words. As the years have gone by the ‘Kiwis’ have adapted the English language to suit their own distinctive needs. Here is a dictionary of the most common and amusing Kiwi phrases.

A

Aotearoa: Maori name for New Zealand meaning land of the long white cloud.
Arvo: afternoon.

B

Bach: holiday home.
Barbie: barbecue.
Bit of dag: hard case, comedian, person with character.
Bitser: mongrel dog.
Bring a plate: means bring a dish of food to share.

C

Chocka: full, overflowing
Chook: chicken
Chuddy: chewing gum

D

Down the gurgler: failed plan
Drongo: stupid fool, idiot
Dunny: toilet, bathroom, lavatory

E

Ear bashing: someone talking incessantly

F

Fizz Boat: small power boat
Flicks: movies, picture theatre

G

G’day: universal kiwi greeting, also spelled gidday
Get the willies: overcome with trepidation
Going bush: take a break, become reclusive
Greasies: fish and chips

H

Handle: pint of beer
Hard yakka: hard work
Hollywood: to fake or exaggerate an injury on the sportsfield
Home and hosed: safe, successfully finished, completed,
Hoon: Young adult driving fast
Hosing down: heavy rain, raining heavily

J

Jandal: sandals, flip-flops,
Judder bar: speed bump

K

Kiwi: New Zealander

L

Laughing gear: mouth
Long drop: outdoor toilet, hole in ground

M

Mad as a meat axe: very angry or crazy
Maori: indigenous people of New Zealand

N

North Cape to the Bluff: from one end of New Zealand to the other

O

Offsider: an assistant, someone’s friend
Open slather: a free-for-all

P

Pack a sad: bad mood, morose, ill-humoured
Pakeha: non-Maori person
Panel beater: auto repair shop, panel shop
Piker: someone who gives up easy, slacker
Pong: bad smell, stink

R

Rark up: telling somebody off
Rattle your dags: hurry up, get moving
Rellies: relatives, family
Ropeable: very angry

S

Scarfie: university student
Shark and taties: fish and chips
Shoot through: to leave suddenly
Shout: to treat, to buy something for someone
Skite: to boast, boasting, bragging
Snarler: sausage
Squiz: take a quick look
Sunnies: sunglasses

T

Ta: thanks
Tiki tour: scenic tour, take the long route
Togs: swimsuit, bathing costume
Tramping: hiking
Twink: white-out

U

Ute: small pickup truck.

W

Wop-wops: situated off the beaten track, out of the way location.