Five Kiwi Traditions You Should Know About Before Visiting Rotorua

Rotorua can be a confusing place but hopefully, this guide will help you to fit in when you arrive.

Here are five Kiwi Traditions you should know about before visiting Rotorua

1. Sport

Many of us kiwis have a real passion for sport, particularly Rugby – one of our favourite national part times. We’re pretty proud of our beloved All Blacks and how well-known they are, but we’re also very loyal to our other athletes. Rowing, sailing, cricket, netball; you name it, if New Zealand athletes are doing well on the world stage, we’ll probably tell you all about it! An easy way to make friends in New Zealand – especially if you’re chatting to a male – is to bring up our most recent rugby or sports achievements. Say something like ‘mate, how awesome are those All Blacks’ and you’ll have made a friend for life!

2. Summer Traditions

Yes, Christmas falls during the height of our kiwi summer – a bit weird if you’re from the Northern Hemisphere and you’re used to it being cold and frosty! Around this time of year, kiwis are normally hitting the beach or having a BBQ with friends and family. The summer BBQ is a key part of how we socialise and relax – if you get an invitation to go to someone’s house for a ‘barbie’, definitely take them up on it! Expect sausages in bread, perhaps a couple of steaks and some cold drinks. It’s very relaxed – shorts and singlets is the usual attire.

3. New Zealand Clothing

Heading to Rotorua during summer? You may see some interesting clothing choices. We’ll explain. Shorts, t-shirts or singlets and jandals (or no shoes at all) is the norm. Jandals are the sandals of choice in New Zealand, easy to slip on and off and nice and cool in the hotter months. We call bathing suits ‘togs’; and during summer holidays we usually stay in these all day long. Basically, summer means wearing as relaxed clothing as possible. General rule - kiwis always prefer to dress down, not up.

4. Food

Be ready for some interesting and unique food when you visit New Zealand. My personal favourites are things like Pineapple Lumps, Pavlova, Marmite and L&P – by the time you head back home, you will have heard all about them! Pineapple lumps are little chocolate covered lumps of chewy pineapple candy. Pavlova is a Christmas favourite; think meringue, cream and fresh fruit (note: this was invented in NZ, not Australia!) We spread marmite on toast; some say it’s an acquired taste. L&P stands for Lemon and Paeroa – ‘world famous in New Zealand’, the tagline goes – it’s basically a delicious fizzy drink. We’re also famous for things like fresh seafood, juicy lamb and kiwi fruit.

5. Slang – kiwi style

Getting used to the way we speak can be hard to wrap your head around. Try to get familiar with some of our favourite sayings below before you arrive. Even throw a couple into the conversations you have with people when you get to Rotorua – we’ll love that you’re being brave enough to have a go!

Chur – This one could be used in many different contexts. It’s main meaning is ‘thanks’ as in “oh Chur for picking that up for me bro.” Trouble is it can also mean ‘Hi’ among other things; you’ve got to pay attention to the context.

Sweet as – This is really popular; essentially it means ‘all good’ or ‘no worries’. If you asked me to drop you off at Duck Tours I might say “sweet as mate!” It’s an easy one to throw into conversation.

She’ll be right – This saying is a reflection on the kiwi attitude to life- laid back, no dramas. If something seems a little suspect or scary and we are gonna go through with it you’ll hear “she’ll be right.

Bro – Any person, males or females can be called bro; it’s a common one here in Rotorua. Pretty much or standard greeting. “Oh hey bro”.

Yeah, nah – We understand this one might get pretty confusing. It means ‘yes’ and ‘no’ at the same time. The ‘yeah’ part means we’ve heard what you’ve said; but the ‘nah’ means that we don’t really agree or aren’t likely to do it.

Context – ‘Hey bro, you want to go for a walk?’ then you might get ‘Yeah, nah, I might just hang out at home eh’.

Rotorua can be a confusing place but hopefully this guide will help you to fit in when you arrive. We have a driver from America who is almost more Kiwi than the Kiwis now; it can be done!!

Have a great time in New Zealand and Rotorua.


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