The 12 Kiwi Phrases You’ll Want to Adopt Immediately

Kiwis definitely have a way with words. A cooler is called a chilly bin. A swimsuit is called togs. And flip flops are called jandals. Before we moved to NZ, I knew there would be some differences in what to call common nouns. (The Kiwi versions sure are charming, eh?)

But what I hadn’t thought about? The laundry list of perfectly fitting idioms and phrases that would warm our hearts and quickly sneak their way into our daily vocabulary. Some, I feel that I’m not Kiwi enough to use… a pang of self-awareness creeping up before they leave my mouth. But others roll off the tongue effortlessly, as if they’ve always been a part of my language.

Here’s a list of the phrases that just put it so perfectly:

1. Sweet as: It means the same as the US’s “sweet” – as in an affirmative response similar to “cool,” “awesome,” or “sure thing.”

The first time I noticed this was after ordering off a dinner menu at a local Devonport restaurant. (Me: “I’ll have the chicken burger.” Waiter: “Sweet as.”)

Since then, I’ve heard many other words used with “as” at the end, and figured out that tacking on an “as” is an automatic amplifier. (“It’s cold as!” or “These shoes are cheap as!”) No matter how many times I hear it, I’ll always wonder… sweet as WHAT?

2. No dramas: Meaning, “no worries,” or “all good.” Pretty self-explanatory, but very important to note the “s” at the end of drama.

3. Knackered/Shattered: Exhausted, tired, or worn down.

4. Gutted: Extremely upset or crushed.

5. Chocka: Full or packed… as in “The bar was chocka. I couldn’t find a place to sit.”

6. I reckon: Kiwis reckon a lot of things. Used very frequently when guessing or anticipating something — similarly to “I think that…” or “I feel that….”

“What do you reckon, will the All Blacks win today?” or “I reckon that the wait will be really long for the dumpling restaurant tonight.”

It can also be used as a response… To “It’s supposed to rain today,” you may say: “You reckon?” (translation: You really think it will?) or “I reckon!” (translation: Yeah, it looks like it!)

7. Sorted: “Done” or  “all set.” Something you announce after you’ve figured out a solution to a problem.

Finally made a decision for what you’ll get up to on Saturday? Weekend plans, sorted.

8. Heaps: The same as “lots,” “a lot of,” or “a ton of.”

9. Arvo: Means afternoon. “I’m busy this morning, but let’s catch up for coffee this arvo.”

10. Good on you: “Good for you!” or “Good job.”

11. Keen: A way to express that you’re up for a proposed activity. For example:

To “Do you want to go to the beach this weekend?” you could reply “Keen!” or “I’m keen!”

Or, in a work email, you could say “I’m keen to get your opinion on the following…”

12. Far out: No, this isn’t an outdated/hippie way to say “cool.” Instead, it’s used to express a feeling that something that’s ridiculous, unbelievable, or even as a more innocent replacement for an expletive.

There are heaps more endearing words: You call your relatives rellies and cousins cuzzies. When someone says “thank you,” you say “that’s alright.” And if you want to take a quick look at something you ask to have a squizz. And of course, there are commonly used Maori terms like Kia Ora.

I could go on… but you’ll just have to visit to learn the rest 🙂

See the Food Blog for more terminology differences.

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