New Zealand Time:

Understanding New Zealand Culture

Just some for you background information (as we have 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 we go to cafes or shopping.
  2. Many New Zealanders have a quite direct and frank way of speaking.
  3. The time frame with your personal guide is very flexible and will be customised on a daily base to your personal needs. BUT  other activities (like the cruise in Milford) is 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 of my guides are in there early and  mid 50's are retired and well off, but have a passion for our beautiful county. They are highly educated and see themselves as host rather than drivers and will give you the best service they can and a 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. Might be a little shocking for some, but that’s just their culture and style. Most of them 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, to litter is an offence.
  14. New Zealanders mostly 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, institutions/education providers may be open on Saturdays or Sundays but classes will rarely be held on these days.
  18. Go early, 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 in your own discretion. Some cafes and restaurants have a container for tips, which get shared with all workers on side.
  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 country sides in the world. Food is  very good, as we can get everything locally and mostly organic, but in comparison to your Asia spices very bland. In the last few years many Asian restaurants have opened also in small town ships. Even in the remotest places you will have internet connections. Most locations are of a high modern standard of living.
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