Below is everything the visitor to New Zealand need know about kiwi culture.
Flight of the Conchords is a popular musical sit-com on HBO about two kiwi musicians trying to make it big in New York, albeit with little success.
Bret and Jemaine are quite self-deprecating as they deadpan their way through zany situations, mixing in the odd (and I do mean odd) musical segment. It's funny.
To the right, you'll find the canonical example of their humor, er...humour.
All kiwis want to think they're this funny. Humour them.
Much of the hit movie trilogy, Lord of the Rings (LOTR), was filmed in New Zealand between 2001 and 2003. This was partly due to NZ's stunning natural splendor and partly because the director, Peter Jackson, is from Wellington and wanted to hook up his homies with sweet gigs.
Six years on you can still take tours of many of the sites used in the movie.
Kiwis seem to have mixed reactions when you bring up LOTR. They are either extremely proud or mildly defensive depending on whether they think you're taking the piss (see Slang).
Kiwi males are unanimous, though, in their judgement that Jackson's best work was in fact not Lord of the Rings, but rather that pièce de résistance of the "splatstick" genre, Bad Taste.
Traditional bungy jumping isn't the only way to physically endanger your life on a visit to New Zealand. Those ingenious kiwis have come up with dozens of ways to increase your odds of visiting hospital while on holiday. (And no, kiwis don't say "the hospital" ... just "hospital".)
You can do 360s in a jet boat, jump off the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere, get bounced 4 stories in the air on giant rubber bands, and even roll down a big hill enclosed in a giant plastic ball, a practice known as "Zorbing."
Kiwis are quick to note that bungy jumping was invented in New Zealand. The funny thing is, you rarely see a kiwi doing extreme sports. They're usually safely off to the side strapping a harness on some bewildered tourist.
New Zealand has a lot of sheep. You may have heard that there are more sheep than people in New Zealand. In fact, there are 10 times as many sheep as people in New Zealand.
It doesn't. It's just funny.
The only zebras in New Zealand are in zoos. That doesn't stop kiwis from calling sections of road with big white stripes painted on them "zebra crossings" (that's pronounced "zehbra," not "zeebra," by the way).
I'm not sure, but I think kiwis consider it sporting good fun to floor it whenever a pedestrian dares attempt to cross a street anywhere except at a zebra crossing.
Even there, where it's required by law, kiwi drivers stop, but only grudgingly. Notice, in the photo to the right, how these experienced pedestrians keep a watchful eye on the stopped motorist, alert to any sign of an emotional snap that might send him lurching forward.
No, this isn't some kind of pre-civil-rights era "separate but equal" restaurant. It's the national
obsession religion rugby team.
Traditionally, New Zealand has had the best rugby team in the world (though that reputation has taken a bit of a hit this year with a few ugly losses and closer-than-they-should-have-been wins.) This is no mean feat considering the country's population is less than the state of Kentucky. Speaking of mean, take a look at that dude to the right. He'd just as soon eat opposing players for breakfast.
One particularly intense source of kiwi pride is the haka, a traditional Māori warrior challenge the All Blacks perform before every match. It's a controversial spectacle that is unique in all of sport. (And, no, kiwis don't say "sports" ... they say "sport".) Have a look for yourself and answer this, what's that smell coming from the opposing teams trousers?
About 1000 years before Europeans colonized New Zealand, Polynesians known as Māori had settled most of the North and South Islands. Māori culture is a major presence in New Zealand, so it's good to know a few of the more common words and phrases.
The pronunciation of the language is similar to Hawaiian in that words are usually pronounced as pairs of letters. It's important to note that "wh" is pronounced like "f" and that "ng" is pronounced like the letter "n".
Wondering about a particular word or phrase not listed below? Check out this English/Māori translator!
Kiwis say stuff funny. In fact, researchers say kiwis speak like Neanderthals. See the video to the right for an example of the local dialect or watch this guide to proper kiwi pronunciation.
The following are some words and phrases you may hear during your visit: