Six New Zealand slang words which don’t travel well

There’s so much serious stuff to sort when it comes to moving to the UK that some smaller issues may not have even crossed your mind.



Whether you’re one of the estimated 58,000 Kiwis already set up in the UK or edging closer to a move, it’s worth bearing in mind that a few of our best-loved slang terms often mean something very different to Brits and people from other countries.

The fact that your new friends watched a couple of episodes of Flight of the Conchords doesn’t mean nothing will be lost in translation, believe us. Therefore, we’ve prepared an interesting rundown of some choice phrases you might want to think again about using when you arrive on the British Isles.


A trip to the dairy is of course standard practice in New Zealand. However, saying the same to your new flatmate might leave them scratching their heads as to why you’re going to a large out-of-town milk production facility.

Stick to using corner shop or newsagents to avoid any ‘hilarious’ communication breakdowns.



Using the word pokies for slot machines in casinos and online slot games on the web has been common for years in Australia and New Zealand, but the term hasn’t travelled well and these days can mean something much different. Just Google it – or don’t.

Getting over its more risqué associations for a second, using the word may also lead you into a conversation regarding just why on earth it is used for slots and not in relation to poker-related games. Your friends may not know what pokies are but do expect pokies to be as popular in the UK as back home.

Thanks to the internet, these games are still accessible wherever you are, while the online casino of the same name – Pokies – offers pokies like Gonzo’s Quest and Starburst Touch with a welcome bonus package of up to £800. That’s handy for when you’re missing people calling ‘slots’ by their rightful name.

Kia Ora

While we all know this as a greeting with Maori origins, Brits of a certain age are likely to get misty-eyed and think back to their childhoods when you coin this one.

Why? Kia Ora was for many years a leading type of fruit squash in the UK, despite the brand courting some controversy with a 1980s TV advert accused of promoting dodgy stereotypes.

Tiki tour

To many Brits, taking a tiki tour could well mean dressing in a Hawaiian shirt for an elaborate pub crawl of bars with elaborate exotic themes and mile-long cocktail menus.

They might be disappointed to learn that you’re merely taking them on a scenic route – or the long way round – to your chosen destination.


A pretty ugly sounding word by anyone’s standards, munted may raise eyebrows as it is a little close to the equally unattractive word ‘munter’ – a not-so-lovely turn of phrase about an individual.

You’re probably best off just encouraging anyone with a munted TV or iPod dock to simply buy another one, by explaining it is damaged. Very very damaged.

Metal road


If you find yourself taking about ‘metal roads’ when reminiscing about home, many people might think you used to live in some kind of bustling, sci-fi metropolis straight out of Blade Runner.

They may in turn be less impressed when you have to explain you simply mean a gravel track or country road.

Much more to consider

Of course, there are many more words you might need to rethink the use of, but considering the ones above may help avoid a few unfortunate communication issues.

Don’t think you’ll never be able to use them again however, as when your Kiwi friends visit there’ll no doubt be hours of fun trying to bamboozle Brits with talk of travelling on munted metal roads during a tiki-tour to the dairy.