New Zealand Etiquette

Meeting and Greeting

In New Zealand greetings are casual and usually encompass a handshake and a smile. The smile generally indicates pleasure at meeting the other person and signifies that they are seeking a pleasant interaction.

Initially people are addressed by their honorific title and this eventually develops into a first-name-basis relationship.

Dining Etiquette

Casualty is reflected in the table manners of New Zealanders. Generally the atmosphere is laid and back and informal. However in formal situation, you should always wait to be seated, keep your elbows off the table and your hands above the table when eating.

Meals are often served family-style, which demonstrates the laid back nature of the New Zealand dining process.


Avoid using the term 'mainland' when referring to the North and South Islands of New Zealand. This is a sensitive issue with the native people.

Avoid using sheep related humour as the New Zealand people see this stereotype as cliched and offensive.

The term 'dairy' refers to a convenience store, not a cow farm. While visiting a dairy is it impolite not to greet the salesperson and engage in simple conversation with them, depending on how busy the store is.

Never use the term 'Oi' to get someone's attention. This is regarded as rude and offensive.


Take care with the pronunciation of Maori words and place names as this is very important to the Maori people.

Shoes should always be removed when entering sacred Maori buildings.


It is polite to pull to the left of the road (if you are driving a slower vehicle such as a campervan) to allow other vehicles to pass. This will generally be acknowledged and appreciated with 2 brief toots of the vehicle's horn.