Home to some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery, New Zealand receives floods of tourists every year, all coming to witness the nation’s mesmerizing beauty. There are a couple of things to know before you join the sea of travelers headed for the land of the Kiwis, and many of them are to do with the local etiquette that should be followed.
New Zealand is a laidback and easygoing country where it’s easy to blend in and impress the locals. A country without any fuss, New Zealanders mostly just expect travelers to follow basic common sense and have decent manners. Check out these 10 etiquette tips to know before you get to New Zealand!
10 Remember Basic Manners In Public
What’s considered rude and polite tends to vary between countries. In New Zealand, typical of the same rules apply that you’ll find in many Western countries. Before you get on public transport, for example, it’s always polite to wait for others to come off before rushing on.
In New Zealand, you’ll also be expected to line up for services and will be frowned at if you cut the line. Other basic manners should be remembered in public such as holding the door open for people who enter just after you.
9 Tipping Isn’t Expected
In most cases, you won’t be expected to tip in New Zealand. The wages tend to be higher than they are in countries like the United States, as so, service staff and other workers don’t rely on tips. While you might still find other travelers tipping in overly-touristy destinations, in general, this is rare and not expected of you at all.
When it comes to receiving a bill at the end of your meal at a restaurant, it is common to split the bill between parties so everyone pays their share.
8 Never Try Bartering
There are some countries where bartering skills are a necessity if you don’t want to be ripped off. But in New Zealand, you don’t need to know how to negotiate a price because nearly all prices are set. If you try to bargain down a price, you’ll come across looking like a very obnoxious tourist.
If you’re visiting a market in a touristy area, you might get away with this kind of behavior. But, generally, it’s frowned upon to try and negotiate a different price. Sometimes prices can seem steep, but that’s because the wages are also generally higher in New Zealand.
7 Become Familiar With Kiwi Slang
It’s not necessarily considered impolite to have no understanding of Kiwi slang, but it will help you out a lot if you are familiar with at least a few words in the local dialect. You’ll be less confused when you hear people talking about togs, the dairy, and going for a tramp.
English is the predominant language spoken in New Zealand, it can seem like a totally different language if you’re not used to the various slang terms. The official languages of the country are Maori and New Zealand Sign Language.
6 The Dress Standards Are Very Relaxed And Laidback
When it comes to knowing what to pack for a trip to New Zealand, the rules are pretty simple; focus on practical clothes that will come in handy when you’re hiking the gorgeous mountains and hopping between destinations on the North and South Island. Leave the dressy clothes at home.
As Rough Guides points out, the dress standards in New Zealand are extremely informal. Even when you visit a high-end restaurant, you’ll only be expected to wear something reasonably smart. There’s no need for suits, ties, and formal wear.
5 Don’t Be Alarmed If You See People Without Shoes
Depending on where you’re from, seeing people walking outside without shoes can be a culture shock. While in some countries this is considered dirty, in New Zealand you might see it a lot. Some Kiwis walk around barefoot in public, further reinforcing the very relaxed and laidback vibe of the country.
According to Nomads World, there are a few reasons for this. Sometimes it’s too hot to wear shoes but not hot enough that your feet will be burnt walking outside. Other times, New Zealanders want to “feel the summer—or winter—grass” between their toes. For whatever reason, don’t stare or be alarmed. It’s very normal in NZ!
4 Be Respectful Of Maori Culture
One of the most important rules to remember while in New Zealand is to be respectful of the native people, the Maori, and their culture. For example, prolonged eye contact in Maori culture can be considered too personal, according to Travel Etiquette.
Be sure to always check with a community elder or owner before taking pictures of Maori buildings and landmarks. Always remove your shoes before entering a Maori house, known as a Wharenui, and seek permission before entering a Marae, which is a Maori meeting ground.
3 Know The Difference Between Australia And New Zealand
If there’s one thing that irks New Zealanders, it’s the comparisons with Australia. Because the two countries are neighbors, many people who aren’t from either country assume that they’re part of the same country or have the same culture. If you want to leave a good impression on the locals, make sure you know the difference between these two countries!
New Zealand is a completely separate country from Australia. It has its own culture, history, and traditions, so it can be annoying for Kiwis to hear that you thought their country was just a mini Oz.
2 Most Places Are Smoke-Free
If you’re a smoker, be aware before traveling to New Zealand that many public places will be smoke-free. You may face fines for smoking in public spaces where there is clear signage to say that it’s not accepted. But the most likely consequence will be that you’ll rub everyone around you up the wrong way.
In some countries, particularly throughout Europe, smoking is widely accepted. New Zealand being so smoke-free may come as a bit of a shock, but it’s very important to respect the local rules.
1 If You’re Chewing Gum, Dispose Of It Properly
It won’t take you long after arriving in New Zealand to realize that it’s a truly spectacular country with unique flora and fauna. It’s also a very clean country that takes littering seriously. While in some nations you’ll have to get used to mountains of garbage lining the streets, in New Zealand you could be fined for even dropping your gum.
The bottom line is to throw out your gum when you’re finished with it. According to Travel Etiquette, even chewing gum can be seen as a little tasteless, so the last thing you want to do is dispose of it on the clean streets.