New Zealand Local Custom Tips by kiwi Top 5 Page for this destination

New Zealand Local Customs: 139 reviews and 123 photos

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Canoe Regatta - New Zealand
Canoe Regatta

Every March on the Saturday closest to St Patrick's Day, there is a cultural spectacle worth seeing if timing is right for you. You will see a very unique gathering of maori waka (wooden canoes), coming down the Waikato River to Turangawaewae Marae, which is the village home of the Maori King.
The public are welcomed onto the Marae, and you get riverside to see the waka and the warriors up close.
One very special aspect of this event, apart from the gathering of waka, is you get to hear the warriors/paddlers chant their strokes. As well they paddle past the crowd, and using the strong flow of the Waikato water, turn and paddle back upstream to salute the King and representatives and guests.
I found this manouvre, where they turn these huge craft, very impressive and precise. It's quite amazing how they place these craft in the exact position they want to be in, with no other help but from the paddlers and the river flow.


Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Mar 20, 2013
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The Bra Fence - New Zealand

The Bra Fence

Bras on fences?

This is NOT a local custom, to hang your bra on the fence as you drive by. But strangely enough the collection of discarded bras is growing here.
This fence is on the Crown Range Road, Cardrona, between Queenstown and Wanaka. I guess it's something people are just compelled to do when they see the array already hanging there.
I have seen at Wanaka a fence made of bikes, and there used to be a fence with boots and shoes hanging from it, but this one was dismantled.
Perhaps this odd habit is becoming an local custom after all!
UPDATE: Authorities decreed that this fence be removed, so it is no longer there for people to admire unfortunately.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jul 7, 2010
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Mobile surgical vehicle. - New Zealand

Mobile surgical vehicle.

Mobile Surgery

I'm calling this local custom because it really is a custom to help ourselves in New Zealand. This attitude first grew with the European pioneers, simply because our geographical location precluded immediate help from elsewhere.
I'm very proud of this service. The bus itself was privately funded but the service is funded by the Minstry of Health and uses national and international expertise, working in conjunction with regional health providers. It is a 39 tonne mobile unit with very modern video communications and surgical tools. During an operation, the bus has sides that extend out. Obviously very customised both in the surgical area and the driving cab.
The bus provides surgery to small town rural areas, and allows certain surgical procedures to go ahead without the patient having to travel a long way to the nearest city.
I believe that the doctors and surgeons donate their time on this service, but am not sure if that is still the case. Whatever it is a very welcomed service in smalltown New Zealand.
Here in the photograph you will see the MSS bus loading onto the Interislander Ferry, that travels between the North and South Islands. I'm sure they do this trip very regularly and it has become a common site. I was thrilled to see the surgery loading on.

Phone: +64 3 355 4790


Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Feb 19, 2006
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Regional Billboards - New Zealand

Regional Billboards

Regional Rivalry.

Like most countries, you will possibly experience regional rivalry in New Zealand. This is at it's worst during the rugby season and especially if there is a game on. The regions vie for the ownership of the coveted "Ranfurly Shield", an old rugby trophy. Sometimes you may see posters announcing that you are entering "Ranfurly Shield" country, indicating the present holder of the shield. Of course this claim moves around the country when the Shield is won by another region.
Here in the photo you see that rivalry being taken to a further level, by being an advertisement for beer.
The underlying origins from this are with the so-called dislike of Aucklanders by the Waikato region. I'm an Aucklander living in Waikato, so it's dear to my heart. I don't like it LOL!
But Aucklanders need to drive through Waikato to get to the rest of NZ and often they are the cause of accidents or congestion on the Waikato roads. Also people from other regions believe that Aucklanders think Auckland is NZ and that the rest of the country doesn't exist. This is not true and I attack that argument whenever I can.
I do laugh though at these billboards, as although they attack what is dear to me, they are very funny to read!

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Aug 20, 2005
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Toilet - New Zealand


A toilet is a toilet.

I know with Americans especially, some cultures don't feel comfortable using the word "toilet". Well here in New Zealand, a toilet is a toilet. You see the word in brochures, on signs, and on the toilet door.
We get confused with the American term 'bathroom' to describe the toilet.
So down here, expect to view this word quite frequently.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written May 25, 2005
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Cattle Stop - New Zealand

Cattle Stop

Cattle Stops

If you come across a sign that reads "Cattle Stop" it isn't an instruction for cattle to stop!
This is the name us kiwis give to a grid in the road, that cattle theoretically cannot traverse. I say theoretically, because I live on a farm and we have a few of these things, and the sheep anyway, can sometimes find their way across these things.
They are a pit in the ground with a grill/grid over the top, that vehicles can drive across but animals can't.
The purpose being that it is not necessary to have a gate across the road, to keep the animals confined to an area.
This photo showing a cattlestop, was taken on the Crown Range Road.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 31, 2004
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HokeyPokey Icecream - New Zealand

HokeyPokey Icecream

Hokey Pokey IceCream.

All kiwis at some point in their lives grew up on Hokey Pokey Icecream. Rich, creamy and sweet, I found less tolerant of this delight as I got older.
But as a youngsgter, nothing was better nor made us feel so alive as eating a cone of this treat.
New Zealand is reknown for it's rich creamy icecream, and someone thought to add chunks of toffee and give it a funky name.
That was a long time ago, cos I've yet to meet a Kiwi who remembers life before HokeyPokey.
I do recommend you try this Kiwi Icon at least once. Just try a little if you are not so fond of rich desserts, but do try some.

Other Contact: Most supermarkets & cnr stores.

Review Helpfulness: 4 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Oct 20, 2003
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Pick up thy house and move. - New Zealand

Pick up thy house and move.

We shift houses down here!

Sometimes while driving you come face to face with a house coming along the road. Normally this happens in the middle of the night causing least blockage on the roads.
Here you see a house ready on a trailer, behind a truck, to move in the dark.
I thought this happened everywhere, but from comments made to me, seems it is an unusual practice in other countries. For us kiwis however, this is a common sight.
Mostly this happens in areas where they sell the house to build a more upmarket one.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Oct 18, 2003
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Vegemite - New Zealand


Eat Vegemite!

If you want to try something very much a part of New Zealand life, then buy some Vegemite. Originally from Australia, we have embraced it as part of our culture too.
Kiwi kids are raised on this stuff from a very young age. It is often used for babies to suck on while teething, usually spread on a crust. However it is very strong, salty and a bit repulsive to visitors. Vegemite is a Yeast extract, and should be use in small quatities due to its concentration.
We eat it normally at breakfast, but anytime is ok. You can spread it on hot buttered toast, and with tomato or avacado sliced on top is nice also. With crackers and cheese. Or you can add a spoon or two to meat when cooking, even spread it on steaks or roasts before cooking.
Vegemite is a very high in Vitamin B and has often been in stories of mountaineers or trekkers lost and surviving on this stuff. It is known to be suitable for vegetarians.
You don't need to buy a jar or a tube, if you stay at a motel often there are little cubes of the stuff in the breakfast bar with the jams. Grab one and when you are feeling brave, try it! Otherwise jars and tubes are available at most stores and supermarkets.

Available at most foodstores, gas stations and supermarkets.

Review Helpfulness: 4 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Oct 7, 2003
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Coffee Instant v Espresso.

Instant, is the most common type of coffee drunk and served in New Zealand homes. You can find nice expresso in caf├ęs but check first. More and more NZers are learning about coffee machines and ground beans, thank goodness.
But if you really don't like instant, then check before you order.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Oct 6, 2003
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