15 Kiwi slang words: A chocka tiki tour in jandals

By Marilynn McLachlan

"Shall we go to the beach today?" "Sweet as!" Photo / Thinkstock
"Shall we go to the beach today?" "Sweet as!" Photo / Thinkstock

Every group of people develops its own slang, which can make it difficult for overseas visitors to understand. New Zealand is no exception.

Here are 15 common Kiwi slang words and their meanings.

1. Tramping

Almost every Kiwi will have been tramping - whether overnight or just a day trip - but it's known as hiking everywhere else in the world.

2. Jandal

Going barefoot , or as close to as possible, is popular amongst New Zealanders. The word "jandal" is an abbreviation of "Japanese sandal" but there is debate as to whether it is a trademarked name or a generic term. It was registered as a trademark in 1963 and Sandford Industries bought the trademark in 1995.

The High Court has reserved judgment and a decision is expected in the coming months.

3. Munted

Meaning broken or ruined, "munted" was voted Word of the Year by blog website Public Address in 2011. The word has been around for some time but has been more widely used since the Canterbury earthquakes. Public Address founder Russell Brown wrote about munted cementing its place in New Zealand vernacular on his blog: "... when Mayor Bob Parker told journalists 'Our main sewer trunk is seriously munted. I believe that is the technical term,' that destiny was sealed."


Mayor Bob Parker near the CTV building site, Christchurch, in 2011. Photo / Pam Johnson

4. Togs

While in the UK the word "togs" means clothes, in New Zealand it refers to the clothing item you wear when swimming. Elsewhere they are called swimmers, bathing suit, swimming suit or swimming costumes.

5. Dairy

"Popping to the dairy" is a common phrase in New Zealand and refers to the local corner shop or superette that remains open outside of normal shop hours. Elsewhere a dairy is a company that supplies milk and milk products, or a grouping of milk-based products such as cheese and yoghurt.

6. Bach

Short for bachelor pad, "baches" (pronounced batches) are an iconic part of New Zealand and refer to family holiday homes. Rising in popularity in the 1950s as roads developed around the country, they were small and humble dwellings near beaches or lakes.

7. Wop-wops

Known elsewhere as the backblocks or the boonies, it refers to a place in the middle of nowhere. For example, "He lives in the wop wops".

8. Ta

"Ta" is an abbreviation of thank you.

9. Tiki tour

To take a "tiki tour" can mean to go on a journey with no destination in mind, or to take the long way to reach a destination. For example, "Let's take a tiki tour around the South Island."

10. Chocka

"Chocka" refers to something being full or overflowing. For example, "my suitcase is chocka."

11. Dodgy

If something is "dodgy" it could mean that it is out of date or stale, or it can refer to a person who looks suspicious or unreliable. For example, "The people outside the movies look dodgy."

12. Suss

In other countries, "suss" means to attempt to work something out, such as "I'm going to suss things out". However, in New Zealand it also refers to someone who is looking suspicious. For example, "They look a bit suss."

13. Stoked

Used elsewhere to refer to being high or intoxicated, it's used in New Zealand as slang for very pleased or excited. For example, "I was so stoked to win the race."

14. Eh

Pronounced "ay", eh is popularly added to the end of sentences when expecting a response rather than asking a question. "Wow, it's really hot today, eh?"

15. Sweet

Elsewhere in the world "sweet" is used to refer to how something tastes, but in New Zealand it means that something is good or cool - often spoken as "sweet as". Elsewhere in the world it is used to refer to how something tastes. For example, "Shall we go to the beach today?" "Sweet as."

Read more:
Are the 'grammar police' ruining the English language?

Photos / Thinkstock

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