When I meet foreigners abroad I often get asked about the languages of New Zealand. Aside from the painfully cringeworthy “what language do you speak in New Zealand?” and compliments on how well I speak English (!), people often want to know if the way we talk in New Zealand is very different to other English-speaking countries. And the truth is, it is – kiwi slang is unique.

I can understand the curiosity. We generally only ever hear about American English and British English as the two standard forms of English. But did you know there are 54 countries which use English as an official language. What about all these other varieties of English? How do we speak?

Today I’m only going to educate you on kiwi slang, as it is obviously what I am most familiar with. Maybe you’re coming to New Zealand for a trip and want to get along with the locals, maybe you’re already here and struggling to understand kiwi speak. Or maybe you are just curious about how we talk in New Zealand, this tiny little corner of the world.

Either way, by the end of this article you can be sure you’ll be up to speed about all the kiwi slang, and you’ll be talking like a New Zealander in no time.

Disclaimer: I don’t claim to know all the slang and make no guarantees that it is used in the same way throughout the whole country. There might be some really obvious ones which I’ve missed because I don’t always know what’s slang and what’s not (I usually figure it out when I’m talking to a native English speaker from another country and get weird looks). The words I’ve included in this article are mostly words I would use, but I’m in no way representative of the whole country.