Posted by: sunnyharvy | May 9, 2016

Kiwi Speak, Observations, and Peculiarities

Although the folks in New Zealand speak the same language as we do, that does not necessarily translate to our always understanding what they mean. I offer here a few examples of “Kiwi Speak” that we encountered.

arse: buttocks

bach: small holiday home, pronounced “batch”

biscuit: cookie

capsicum: sweet pepper

caravan: travel trailer

cotton buds: Q-tips

courgette: zuchini

give way: yield to traffic

jandal: thongs, flip-flops

kumara: sweet potato

long-drop: outhouse, outdoor loo

panel beater: auto body shop

slow car bay: turnout to let others pass

takeaway: food prepared to go

torch: flashlight

track: walking trail

tramping: hiking, often difficult

windscreen: windshield

wonky: crooked

Care to learn more? Follow the link above the list. Accents and intonations add to the communication difficulties. Most of the kiwis couldn’t understand Al, with his Massachusetts accent, at all.

Don’t order an “ice coffee” unless you want a thick milkshake made with ice cream and espresso. Very yummy, but not exactly what I was expecting. Trying to get an American strength (weak by NZ standards) cup of coffee is also a challenge.

New Zealanders are friendly and helpful, often to a fault. In fact, we had to remind ourselves not to ask a question of one unless we had at least 10 minutes for the response.

A few random impressions I have of New Zealand include:

Sheep, Cows, and Green Hills

Narrow, Winding Roads

Exotic Bird Songs

Tall Tree Ferns

Otherworldly Scenery

Spectacularly Starry Skies

Charming Small Towns

One Lane Bridges

Meat Pies and Pastries


Beaches, Beaches, and More Beaches


Tall Hedges

Major Highways with Just Two Lanes

No Billboards

Friendly, Polite, Helpful People (even kids)

Too Many Tourists

High Prices

And now for a few NZ peculiarities captured in photographs.


Al was fascinated by these wire fence tighteners.


Free sunscreen


A water faucet (bubbler in New England).


All electrical receptacles have switches.


And pushing “down” turns them “on” !?!


Toilet flush options.


Interesting term for a beer tap.


I have never seen a “Boston Bun” in Boston, have you?


Faux wood motorhome.


Enough said I think.


Only Kiwis or Brits could be this proper when referring to sh*t.


Why would anyone agree to pay to rent a van with this paint job? Bad enough we had to camp next to it!


This one is much more fun, but we were happy to have the plain white variety.


Stuffed with gear for three campers…pretty typical for young travelers, particularly Europeans.


Amazing automated public toilet, complete with spoken instructions and Muzak.


Not sure I’d want to sit in that seat. We saw many creative vehicle paint jobs.


Another word for shopping cart.


Apparently things can get a bit rowdy in NZ, as we saw several of these signs.


Not a happy sign for us.


NZ is the land of tiny sinks – they are everywhere. And why not? They only need to fit two hands. Many were much smaller than this one.




Murals everywhere, on bus stops, bathrooms, abandoned buildings and more.


Very creative playgrounds. I had to try out some of the equipment for myself, of course.


Are we not to foul the dog or is the dog not to foul the area?


Many, many, many birds…everywhere.


Creative mailboxes abound. Sorry we didn’t get a photo of a Microwave post box of which we saw several. do like the outboard above though. The plastic number seems to be standard issue and very practical.


Home Sweet Home.


Baaaaaa… good-bye New Zealand.


  1. Very cute! Thank you for all the info & photos! Why such tall hedges? That really looked odd. What an adventure! Wow.

  2. I forwarded this to a friend who is a real wordsmith and just had surgery today. I know she will enjoy this! I’m loving your adventures! Liz

  3. :)) I think I would like New Zealand. Thanks for the imagery

  4. So many funny things, as well as all the great innovations. Thank you for your excellent chronicling of so many interesting tidbits. Had some great laughs from this one 🙂 Hope your next adventures are just as delightful!

  5. Truly and amazing trip. I know you are glad to be back home but you must be so pleased you took the time to go. Great photos and descriptions throughout. Thanks for taking us along.

  6. We really enjoyed this post and all of your others from NZ, having spent some time there in 1977 and hoping to go back again in the next year or so. Also enjoyed following you through the last couple years on your journeys from the time we first met you in October a few years back along the Smokey Mountains – Blue Ridge Parkway – at Mt. Mitchell (highest elevation). You’ll have great memories and already have all the text and blog to put together a scrapbook of an amazing adventure. Best to you and Al for all the adventures ahead!

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