Getting Local

The Ultimate Guide To Kiwi Slang For Your Trip To New Zealand

By Louise Burton
on  July 05, 2019

Although the most widely spoken language in New Zealand is English – with Te Reo Māori as the native language – Kiwi’s actually have a whole slang language of their own. And they will very freely throw around all kinds of kiwi slang in conversation with you, no matter if you’ve been in the country one day or one month.

So here’s a guide to help you get down with the kiwi lingo, featuring 22 words you need to know; bookmark it, screen grab it, take notes – because chances are you’ll hear these New Zealand slang words a lot as you adventure through the country. And we can promise you, you’ll need to refer to the meanings of these kiwi phrases to make sense of conversations with the locals… then you can join in yourself too! 

Guests standing outside Wild Kiwi vehicle

#1 Yarn

The Kiwi way to say ‘chat’ or ‘conversation’.

E.g. “I was just having a yarn with Bob about our weekend trip to Queenstown.”

#2 Sharn

Like a yarn, but it’s a sh*t yarn. So basically talking for the heck of it, not really having a decent conversation. Pretty much just talking sh*t.

E.g. “I don’t really like Sue, but had a sharn with her anyway to get her off my back.”

#3 Chur

Hey, whats-up, hi, thanks, goodbye. That’s right, this one is an all-rounder much like ‘Aloha’ in Hawaii. 


Rangi: “Chur bro, what’s been happening”

Matt: “Chur, got you a beer bro”

Rangi: “Ah chur chur!”

Wild Kiwi guest enjoying hokey pokey ice-cream in Queenstown

#4 Heaps

A lot or large amount.

E.g. “Bro, there’s heaps of seals at Kaikoura.” 

#5 Mean

In fact, there’s nothing nasty about this one, it means good, awesome, epic!

E.g. “I went white water rafting in Rotorua, it was mean as!”

#6 Sweet as

That’s great, cool, thanks, all good.


Rangi: “How was the journey to the Coromandel?”

Matt: “It was sweet as.”

#7 Skux

Looking and feeling fresh.

E.g. “I’m going to look skux as for the pub tonight bro.”

#8 Togs

Bikini, bathers, one-piece, boardshorts. Basically any swimwear is known as togs. 

E.g. “Put your togs, we’re going to do some manu bombs at the waterfall!”.

Wild Kiwi guests at Lake Taupo

#9 Jandals

Flip flops or thongs.

E.g. “Don’t forget your jandals, the concrete is hot as this time of year.” 

#10 Missus

Wife, girlfriend or female partner.

“Bro, are you and the missus coming out for pizza tonight?”

#11 Smoko

Morning tea. The term originated from a mid-morning smoking and tea break, but everyone roles with it now. Now it’s morning coffee or tea, maybe with a snack, around 10am usually used in the workplace.

E.g. “Let’s break up the journey with smoko in Taupo on the way to Napier.”  

#12 Choice

Like, cool.  


Rangi: “How was your trip to Hobbiton?”

Matt: “It was choice, I saw a real life hobbit!”

#13 Cuzzy

Like mate or bro, a way to address your close friend.

E.g. “Hey cuzzy, how was your holiday in the south island?”

Ride the Gondola in Queenstown with Wild Kiwi

#14 Stubbies

Who wears short shorts? Kiwis wear short shorts – i.e stubbies. Basically rugby shorts. 

E.g. “Why are you wearing your Stubbies? It’s 4 degrees celsius outside!”

#15 Bach

Beach house.

E.g. “Are we staying at your bach in the Coromandel for New Year?” 

#16 Dairy

Convenience store, newsagent, corner shop.

E.g. “I’m just popping down to the dairy to grab some milk.”

#17 Lollies 

Sweeties. Like, not LOLLYPOPS and not to be confused with ice blocks. Think gummy bears, Pineapple Lumps (try them, trust us) and all kinds of sweet candy that isn’t chocolate. These are known as lollies.

E.g. “We’re going to need some lollies for this road trip!” 

#18 Get on the piss 

Go get drunk, have a few beers.

E.g. “It’s the last night of our road trip in New Zealand, let’s get on the piss!” 

Wild Kiwi Guests Enjoying a Wine

#19 Stink

A pretty funny kiwi saying, but basically means ‘ah that sucks’.


Rangi: “I was hiking one of the New Zealand great walks, and I rolled my ankle.”

Matt: “Ah stink!”

#20 Tiki tour

Road trip, tour around, go check out a few places and take the long way.

E.g. “It was my boyfriend’s first time in New Zealand, so I took him on a tiki tour.” 

#21 Yeah Nah



Rangi: “Did you sleep well?”

Matt: “Yeah nah I slept good thanks.” 

#22 Not even ow

That can’t be true.


Matt: “Did you know the All-Blacks have won every single rugby world cup?”

Rangi: “Not even ow, they’ve only won three!”

Are you ready to head to the land where these kiwi slang words are actually used in everyday exchanges? Check out our awesome Wild Kiwi itineraries; we’ve got 7-day, 14-day and 21-day options to cater for a variety of timescales and budgets. Head over and check them out cuzzy, we can’t wait to show you our sweet as country!

Group of Wild Kiwi guests making human pyramid on the beach

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