Culture Shocks in New Zealand

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From the history of the Maori community to the extreme outdoor lifestyle, New Zealand can give you the experience of a lifetime if you decide to embrace their cultural differences. This blog explores the culture shocks in New Zealand that you may experience when you visit the land of the Kiwis. 

“If they say it’s a hill – expect it to be a mountain. If they say it’s just a short hike – it’s at least a five-hour trek.” 

That’s how hardcore New Zealanders are expected to be. And for those moving to New Zealand for further studies, culture shocks are pretty much a very common occurrence. It’s always beneficial for outsiders to learn how to adapt to these differences as it will allow you to experience a new culture and the beauty of local society.

About Culture Shocks in New Zealand

New Zealand has a unique and vibrant culture. The Maori culture greatly influences the lifestyle of Kiwis (this is what the people of New Zealand are called). People in New Zealand are pretty laid back, friendly and outgoing. They are open-minded and welcoming to people from all cultures. At the same time, they do not brag about what they own and how much money they have and like to be private. The country is peaceful and relaxed and encourages people to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Even a 4 day work week is encouraged. Kiwis love to enjoy the outdoors and enjoy the spectacular landscapes and good weather. Healthcare is provided by the government for everyone, regardless of their residency status and New Zealand has one of the best public education systems in the world and is mostly free. Kiwis are known for taking it easy and having a relaxed attitude to life. 

Also Read: Requirements To Study In New Zealand

Culture Shocks in New Zealand

Despite being a fairly low population, New Zealanders have a pretty vibrant and rich culture which might intimidate outsiders in the beginning, but with time you get the hang of it and start to actually appreciate the beauty of it. 

Maori Culture

The cultural influence in New Zealand is mainly European and Māori. The culture of New Zealand’s indigenous Māori people affects the overall language, the arts, and even the accents of all New Zealanders. Kiwis liberally use Maori words when speaking English.

Credits: History Time

People Walking Barefoot

You may find it shocking that Kiwis like to walk around barefoot in any weather and in places like the supermarket, restaurant, on the streets and just about anywhere you go. Kids are often barefoot in parks and playgrounds. Kiwis could care less if you roam around barefoot without any shoes.

Food and social occasions

Sharing food is a common Kiwi way of bringing people together. They also love to have barbeque dinners which they call barbie. If you are invited to dinner at a house, you are expected to bring some food or drink. 

culture shocks in new zealand
Credits: Britannica

Kiwis Love for Rugby

New Zealanders are crazy about Rugby. New Zealand’s national rugby team is All Blacks and the national obsession with rugby is huge. For some, it’s a part of their national identity. 

Socialising at Work 

Sharing tea at work is pretty common in the mornings or evenings. Kiwis use the phrase ‘bring a plate’ which means please bring some food. If someone uses the phrase ‘shouting’ means they are providing the food or drink at their cost – no one will raise their voice!

Communicating with Kiwis

Kiwis don’t like to say ‘no’ directly, so they indirectly say ‘no’ which could be confusing. They could say “yeah Nah” which is “probably not” or they could say “not sure” or “not really. Also, they speak very quickly and use a lot of slang which you would not be able to understand as a foreigner.  You could ask people to slow down and help you understand the meaning of the slang words.

Love For Adventure

The country is renowned for adrenaline-packed adventure activities. You can do everything from skydiving, rafting, caving, canyon swing, off-roading bungee jumping to hiking and skiing.

Summers in New Zealand

You may find it surprising that summers in New Zealand last from December to March. January is the hottest month with temperatures between 16-25 degrees celsius, making it the best time to visit New Zealand. The Winter months are July through August. This is completely the opposite of the weather in India. 

Drinking Culture

There is a drinking culture in New Zealand, people enjoy drinking in social gatherings or otherwise. The legal age for buying and consumption of alcohol is 18 in New Zealand. There are few restrictions on drinking in public places at certain times. Drinking after work on Fridays is very common. New Zealand has some of the best wines you have ever tasted. some of the best wine you have ever tasted. 


Smoking in New Zealand is rare and is also prohibited in public buildings like bars and restaurants or in public transport. You can smoke outside. But even when you are outside you should ask people around you if they don’t mind.

Why Study in New Zealand?

Other than the fact that New Zealand is one of the best places to live in the world, here are a few facts why studying in New Zealand can be a great benefit for your academic experience. 

  • High-Quality Education – The top universities for higher education in New Zealand are all included in the top 3% of global rankings. This makes the country a sought-after destination for international students.
  • Unbeatable Lifestyle – It is a well-known fact that New Zealanders truly appreciate work-life balance. So if you decide to take a 4 days working week, it will be gladly encouraged by your employer.
  • Learn English – Being an English-speaking country, you can definitely upskill your English speaking skills by residing in this country for a while. Alongwith English, it will be an added bonus if you also pick up a few Maori terms.
  • Work Ready – The education system in New Zealand is well-acclaimed for encouraging students to learn professional skills that assists them in the practical and professional world right after graduation. 

Also Read: Part-time Jobs in New Zealand

Top Universities in New Zealand

Degrees gained from these top universities in New Zealand are highly sought-after by top companies globally.

UniversityQS World Ranking 2022Location
The University of Auckland85Auckland
University of Otago194Dunedin
Victoria University of Wellington236Kelburn, Wellington
University of Canterbury258Christchurch
Massey University284Palmerston North
Lincoln University372Lincoln
University of Waikato373Hamilton
Auckland University of Technology (AUT)451Auckland

So these were the top culture shocks in New Zealand that every Indian student faces. Despite the culture shocks, world-class education overpowers. If you are planning to study in New Zealand and want to understand the process, Leverage Edu is here to help you. Call our experts at 1800-572-000 now and book your first counselling session for free!

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