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Understanding New Zealand Culture

Understanding New Zealand Culture

Just some background information (as everyone has different cultural backgrounds)... I hope this gives you a little more input in our society before you arrive.

New Zealanders do some things differently to other Nationalities. Some of the differences include:

  1. Generally, New Zealanders are casual and relaxed and dress informally on most occasions, including when going to cafes or shopping
  2. Many New Zealanders have a quite direct and frank way of speaking
  3. The timetable with your personal guide is very flexible and will be customised on a daily base to suit your personal needs BUT other activities (like the cruise in Milford) are very much on time and if you are late you will miss out on the adventure. People will not wait for any group and will proceed with their operations as announced beforehand
  4. New Zealanders are not always punctual for social occasions. Don't be concerned or offended if someone says they will meet you at, for example, 1.30pm and they don't arrive until 1.45pm
  5. Appointments are made in advance to see professional people (e.g. to see a doctor or lecturer)
  6. People are usually very happy to answer questions, so don't be shy
  7. Personal privacy is important and subjects such as salary, mortgages, and age are not often discussed by New Zealanders. These topics are not usually discussed outside of the family
  8. Sometimes New Zealanders can be offended if people stare (look closely) at them and it may be considered rude and aggressive
  9. Sometimes New Zealanders can be offended by personal comments such as "you have put on weight", "she is skinny", or "his hair is very grey"
  10. Generally, people in New Zealand, especially adults, like to hear people say "please" and "thank you" when paying for goods and services or when help has been given. We say thank you to service providers! Kiwis are friendly and polite. Greeting and thanking on buses is normal
  11. We are a very egalitarian country and don’t have really poor people, so everybody gets treated with the same respect. Our guides are not just drivers, there are professional people and some are in there early to mid 50's and are retired and well off, but continue to work because they have a passion for our beautiful county. They are highly educated and see themselves as hosts rather than drivers and will give you the best service they can and provide great input into our culture and sights. There is no cheap labour in our country at all
  12. Kiwis do smile at strangers and have small talks – it is normal!!! Don’t be surprised when the cashier at the supermarket starts asking about your day. This might be a little shocking for some, but that’s just our culture and style. Most people are genuinely friendly
  13. New Zealanders find spitting offensive and some can get upset if they see people do this. We are a very clean country and protect our environment. Littering is an offence
  14. New Zealanders generally speak quietly when on public transport or in public spaces, even when with friends
  15. Many New Zealanders have pets, most commonly a cat or dog
  16. New Zealanders can be passionate about sport - particularly rugby. Playing sport is a great way to make friends
  17. Schools and institutions/education providers may be open on Saturdays or Sundays but classes will rarely be held on these days
  18. Arrive early as most shops close around 5pm. If you are used to cities that don’t sleep, New Zealand cities do sleep! Many shops close around 5pm, except restaurants, pubs, and supermarkets. Going to shopping malls in the evening is not much of an option
  19. Young New Zealand people (over 18 years of age) often get together in pubs, bars, or cafes rather than in restaurants, which can be costly. It is acceptable not to drink alcohol when socialising
  20. Tipping is not expected in New Zealand but is nowadays appreciated. There is no set formula and it is at your own discretion. Some cafes and restaurants have a container for tips, which get shared with all workers on site
  21. Generally, New Zealand people do not bargain when they go shopping and this can offend people, but for larger items such as cars, whiteware, electrical appliances, or even bicycles there can be a range of prices and it is acceptable to ask for a discount for cash. It may be acceptable to bargain at open-air markets
  22. New Zealanders don't carry much cash as electronic methods of payment are widely used
  23. We are generally very casual people who love the outdoors. New Zealand has some of the most beautiful countrysides in the world. Food is very good, as we can get everything locally and it is mostly organic, but in comparison to Asia spices may seem very bland. In the last few years, many Asian restaurants have opened in cities and small townships. Even in the remotest places, you will have internet connections. Most locations reflect a high modern standard of living