Kiwi Uber passengers are normally too stingy to tip - but are more likely to do so if they're drunk, drivers say.

The global ride-sharing company introduced tipping in February, stressing it was voluntary and all tips went to drivers. Passengers can tip either $1, $3, $5 or up to $50 via the customisable option.

Uber refused to provide information about how common it was for New Zealand passengers to tip their driver.

However Auckland Uber drivers have indicated to the Herald on Sunday that New Zealanders have stuck to their no-gratuity culture.


One driver said that if he was tipped it was usually an American or another tourist and they were often older.

All the tips he received were usually on the smaller side, between $1 and $5, but the biggest he had received was $100. That came from an intoxicated passenger who was verbally abusive, but later apologised for his behaviour and delivered the whopping tip.

Should they choose to, Uber passengers can tip their drivers.
Should they choose to, Uber passengers can tip their drivers.

An Aucklander who drives for Uber at least six hours a day said he hadn't received a single tip since the option was launched on the app six months ago.

Another full-time driver said it was very rare to be tipped and in the long run didn't make much of a difference, as he made more money from the journey fare itself.

His most memorable tip came from a passenger he delivered from Manurewa to the CBD, who spent the last five minutes of the journey promising a big reward. But afterwards, when the driver checked his app to see what was waiting for him, he was gobsmacked to find the man tipped the lowest option, "he only gave me $1".

The drivers all debated how beneficial the tipping option was but said it was great Uber didn't take a commission on them.

Most Uber users spoken to by the Herald on Sunday said it was unlikely they would ever tip a driver. Those who had usually did so after a few drinks.

New Zealand doesn't have an established tipping culture, and a suggestion to implement one here by deputy prime Minister of the time Paula Bennett drew furious backlash in 2017.


Dr Lindsay Neill, who lectures in international hospitality management at Auckland University of Technology, has said previously Kiwis only tip if they had a breathtaking experience.

Having worked in the United States as a chef before entering academia, he said waiting staff would come in after service with "fistfuls of cash".

"That's why service is so good and waiters are so attentive in the US," he said.

He could see New Zealand's attitude to tipping changing as we adopt "Uber Culture" and "a globalised concept of being and doing".

"We'll become a tipping nation," he said. "Although some people will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into it."

An Uber spokesperson said the tipping option stemmed out of requests by drivers and passengers, they said, who wanted to reward great service.

Since it was introduced, Uber had received really positive feedback, especially from the drivers, who were "thrilled" to be earning a little extra, the spokesperson said.