The warm welcoming embrace New Zealanders have, is what’s at your disposal to show off our hospitality. If you’re a Kiwi yourself, you’ll be well versed in the art of being really nice. If not, lean into our rich cultural experiences to get Australians excited about Aotearoa.

With a patchwork history of Māori, European, Pacific Island and Asian influences, New Zealand's population of five million people is a melting-pot of cultures. 

Today, the population of New Zealand(opens in new window) is made up of people from a range of backgrounds; 70% are of European descent, 16.5% are indigenous Māori, 15.1% Asian and 8.1% non-Māori Pacific Islanders.

Geographically, over three-quarters of the population live in the North Island, with one-third of the total population living in Auckland. The other main cities of Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton are where the majority of the remaining Kiwis dwell. 

New Zealand demographics don't tell the full story. Beyond the numbers, what are Kiwi people really like? 

Why are New Zealanders called Kiwis?

The name 'kiwi' comes from the curious little flightless bird that is unique to New Zealand. 

Māori people have always held the kiwi bird in high regard. Their feathers were used to make 'kahu kiwi', valuable cloaks worn by tribal chiefs.

In the early 1900s, cartoonists started to use images of the kiwi bird to represent New Zealand as a country. 

During the First World War, New Zealand soldiers were referred to as 'kiwis', and the nickname stuck.

Eventually, the term Kiwi was attributed to all New Zealanders, who proudly embraced the moniker. Just like the bird, New Zealanders are unique, adaptable and a little quirky. 

Ohakune, Ruapehu , Ruapehu

The quirks and values of Kiwi people

Australians have a good idea of what New Zealanders are like, but there’s always room to show them more of our manaakitanga (welcoming spirit and generosity). So strike up a friendly conversation, let them know about our culture, or strike up some cheeky banter about our long-standing trans-Tasman rugby rivalry.


Te Puia, Rotorua, Rotorua

A Home Away From Home

New Zealanders share a set of values that arise from Māori cultural influences, early pioneering spirit, and a love of sports and the outdoors. Which is pretty similar to our Australian friends. So remind them that New Zealand is a holiday destination where they can truly feel at home. 

Tairāwhiti Gisborne
Mount Hikurangi, Tairāwhiti Gisborne

You won't want to miss this sunrise opportunity.

Be the first in the world to see the sunrise

Welcome Australians to a sunrise that wakes up just a little bit earlier than theirs. As one of the easternmost locations in New Zealand, found 90 kilometres north of Gisborne in the Tairāwhiti region, this mountain is one of the first places in the world to see the sunrise.

Roys Peak Track, Wānaka

With such spectacular landscapes, it's little wonder Kiwis love the great outdoors.

Kiwis love the great outdoors

For the same reason that many visitors come to New Zealand, Kiwis have developed a passion for the outdoors and delight in activities that make the most of the spectacular landscape. 

With so much coastline, it’s little wonder New Zealanders love the water and it’s reputed that over 15% of New Zealand families own their own boat.  Respected as superior yacht designers, Kiwis continue to dominate on the world yachting, kayaking, windsurfing and rowing scene.

Hiking, camping, fishing, bush and beach walks are other popular outdoor pursuits. The more intrepid take to the mountains; following in the footsteps of perhaps the most adventurous Kiwi, Sir Edmund Hillary, who conquered Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain, in 1953.

Rugby, New Zealand

Rugby is New Zealand's national sport

A shared code of mateship

New Zealanders and Australians have battled it out on the Rugby field for years. So next time you’re battle it out in scrum with and an Aussie forward pack, mention that New Zealand is a great post-game getaway. 

Nelson Tasman
Neudorf Vineyard, Nelson Tasman

New products, including wine, are now also contributing greatly to New Zealand's exports.

Urban sophistication or taming the land?

As members of a unique and multicultural society, many Kiwis have wholeheartedly embraced urban living, café culture and an appreciation for new culinary tastes, fashion and the arts. Kiwis are as likely to visit an Asian restaurant or modern art gallery as they are to attend a local rugby game.

Whilst the lure of urban dwelling has ingrained itself on many, there is a sizeable rural population and farming is a major export earner. While the traditional exports of wool, meat and dairy products are still very strong, new products, including Cervena (New Zealand venison), flowers, fruit, biotechnology and wine are now also contributing greatly to our exports.

Christchurch - Canterbury
Goose Bay, Kaikoura, Christchurch - Canterbury

Strike up a conversation along your journey in New Zealand.

Become one of the locals

Encourage Australians to live like a local when they holiday in New Zealand.

Mention that it’s easy to strike up conversations along their journey - a casual chat at a bar or restaurant or at a local market - it’s the best way to get insider knowledge on the area they’re visiting and they may even pick up the local Kiwi lingo and make new life-long friends!

Tell them to try out some words of Te Reo Māori - start with kia ora (Hello)

And mention that Australians can take the Tiaki Promise - to care for the land and respect the culture of New Zealand people. 

By sharing in the values of caring and supporting each other, showing hospitality, and protecting nature, they’ll be rebooking another trip in no time!

Next on your journey