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People and Culture

New to New Zealand. We’ll introduce you

Kiwi culture is unique and vibrant. Shaped by Maori and Polynesian traditions as well as British and European customs, the people of New Zealand are a diverse bunch. The friendly and down-to-earth people of New Zealand will be one of the things you treasure most about your time here.

If you want to make New Zealand your home, it helps to gain some perspective, understand the people and their way of life as it will open a whole new world of opportunities and experiences. Once you adapt to your new surroundings, embrace the things you can’t control and build your network of friends, it’s likely you won’t be disappointed.

Read on as there’s much more to getting by in New Zealand than having a can-do-attitude and being mad about the Haka.

Language

While English is the main language spoken in New Zealand, there are two actual official languages in New Zealand. Maori became an official language in 1987 and New Zealand became the first country to declare sign language as an official language, alongside Maori in April 2006.

Many places in New Zealand have Maori names, such as Onehunga, Whangamomona, Kahikatea and Nguru so learn how to pronounce them correctly. New Zealanders also have a fascinating set of sayings and catchphrases that may make no sense to you.

If you want to understand what everyone is talking about, get familiar with words like kia ora (hello), haera mai (welcome), kei te pehea koe? (how’s it going?) and master Kiwi slangs and colloquialisms, namely “My bloody car carked it yesterday.” (“My car died yesterday.”) or “That fulla is munted.” (“That guy is drunk.”). 

Sports

Rugby is the most popular sport in New Zealand, with the legendary New Zealand All Blacks winning the Rugby World Cup the most times.

Rugby brings the country together and is a national fixation. It forms the sporting backbone of New Zealand so if the team suffers a loss, the nation’s mood can be depressing. It's a serious punch in the gut so be prepared and avoid critcising the All Blacks or imply that some other team could possibly be better than them.

Apart from rugby, Kiwis are also making waves in the world of football, hockey, basketball, netball, yachting, kayaking, windsurfing and rowing to name a few.

Etiquette

New Zealanders are very kind-hearted, love to joke and smile, and happy to meet new people. They'll stop for a chat, ask how your day is going at the markets and assist you with directions. You don't have to worry about making mistakes with your English as New Zealanders will appreciate you making the effort.  

The country’s culture is deep-rooted in the Maori culture, so it pays to understand the big dos and don’ts in the local culture. For example, it’s considered impolite to touch the head and hair of others, especially of the chief. Other things to keep in mind are removing your shoes before entering a Maori meeting house or cultural areas and not to sit on tables and pillows.

The Great Outdoors

Enjoy the outdoors and make the most of New Zealand's spectacular landscape. 

New Zealand has 15,000 kilometres of coastline, making it the 9th longest in the world. The sea is never more than 100km no matter where you are in New Zealand, so you’ll get plenty of opportunities for swimming, boating, fishing, diving, kayaking, windsurfing, kiteboarding and canoeing. 

You can also jump in a car, buy a tent and discover the country or run around with a rugby ball at the park, go jungle trekking or invite the friends to a game of soccer. Whatever gets your heart pumping or gives you that adrenaline rush, there is every chance you will be able to enjoy it here in New Zealand.

Weather

The climate varies throughout the country. Where the north is generally mild and humid, the further south you go the colder it gets. 

You may also experience four seasons in a day so it always helps to be prepared. A beautiful sunny day can quickly change into a cold wet one so carrying an umbrella, sunglasses, hat and dressing in layers is the best way to maximize your comfort in the outdoors. 

Download your preferred weather app and use it to determine what you should wear and bring with you. New Zealand has one of the highest UV ratings in the world so even on cloudy days you can get sunburn. Sunscreen is a must!

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