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Moving to New Zealand? Here's how to adapt to your new life


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Date Published

09 October 2023

New Zealand is a beautiful country with friendly people and a unique culture. If you’re thinking about moving there or you’ve already decided to move there to either work or study, this article can help you make your change smoother and more enjoyable.

We'll give you advice on how to communicate with New Zealanders, and you’ll discover New Zealand culture and its core values.

You’ll also get tips on how to adjust to your new lifestyle, so you can join in with the local community and get the most out of this amazing new experience.

Let's get started!

Communicating like a New Zealander

People in New Zealand have their own unique way of speaking English and communicating. So it’s helpful to keep in mind the following three things when having conversations:

  1. Some people find that New Zealanders speak English quite fast, but there is no need to worry if you find it difficult to understand people when you first arrive – you will soon get used to the accent!

    If you have trouble understanding your new friends, don’t be afraid to ask, “Could you please slow down?” or “Could you speak more slowly please?” New Zealand society is multicultural and super friendly, so you’ll find that people are happy to help you.

  2. New Zealanders have their own unique slang words, phrases and expressions which are used a lot. Some of the most common are:
  • “Bro”: Short for “brother” but it’s usually used when you’re talking to a male friend (e.g. Hey, bro, what's up?)
  • “Sweet as”: Great, excellent (e.g. Her new dress is sweet as!)
  • “Chur”: Thank you (e.g. "I'll help you carry those bags." "Chur, bro."

    Using these can show that you're making an effort to fit in, but don’t worry about learning all the slang expressions people use in New Zealand before you move there.

    Instead, focus more on communicating with the English you’ve already learned in your life. You’ll soon learn the special New Zealand words and expressions while you’re there by having conversations and making friends.
  1. It is common in New Zealand to use polite language when people ask for something or tell someone what to do.

    They might say, "Would you mind doing..." or “I was wondering if you could…” This is because it's considered impolite to be too direct or demanding, especially when you're talking to someone you don't know very well.

    So keep this in mind when communicating in more formal situations (e.g. when you’re opening an account at the local bank or buying a ticket at the train station).

Knowing these key communication tips can help you have enjoyable conversations. It’ll make it easier for you to communicate with others so you can start new friendly relationships.

Respecting the environment

New Zealand has a low population of people, so most of the landscape has not been changed by humans. There are Large wild areas that are completely natural.

You’ll see spectacular mountains, natural rainforests, unique native animals - like the kiwi– and long beaches that will simply amaze you.

The New Zealand tourist industry has even made a commitment, called “The Tiaki Promise”, to help visitors protect and preserve the country's natural environment.

So, as a newcomer, it's important to be respectful of the environment and do your part in preserving it.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to practice the "leave no trace" principle. This means that when you're out in nature, you should leave it as you found it.

This is good advice that applies to any country in the world but it’s especially important in New Zealand.

Enjoy the sports culture

New Zealanders are very into sports so it's not uncommon to see people playing or watching sports on any given day.

You may already know that rugby is the national sport and a big part of the country's culture. But there are others too. Some of the most popular include netball, basketball, and football (soccer).

Getting involved in the sports culture is an excellent way to meet new people and make friends. You could join a local sports team or club and have fun while getting involved in the community and staying active.

If you're not a sports fan, don’t worry. You can always take part as a volunteer.

New Zealanders will welcome you warmly and appreciate your efforts and you’ll learn more about the country's sports culture.

This can also help you to discover new interests and passions that you might not have known about before.

So, even if you're not into sports, try to get involved and contribute to the vibrant sporting community in New Zealand.


So, how does all this sound? Are you looking forward to moving to New Zealand? It’s truly an amazing place and we hope this article has helped you learn more about its people and culture.

Also, don’t forget that Immigration New Zealand might ask you for IELTS as proof of your English language abilities for many visas.

Learn more about how IELTS can help you make your move – and best of good luck in your new home!