What to know about New Zealand culture: Study names 3 top culture shocks

Publish Date
Friday, 20 October 2023, 3:28PM
A study has revealed most commonly discussed culture shocks visitors experience in New Zealand. Photo / Wikicommons

A study has revealed most commonly discussed culture shocks visitors experience in New Zealand. Photo / Wikicommons

A new study has revealed the most common culture shocks people experience when moving to New Zealand.

One doesn’t have to travel long to realise the idea of “normal” is very subjective. What is completely typical in one country will be considered bizarre in another. In some instances, certain things can take on completely opposite meanings.

All of this contributes to culture shock; disorientation caused by differences between the culture of your home and your new destination.

This means it’s pretty difficult to identify what could cause culture shock in your home country because, to you, everything seems “normal”.

A recent study has mined information from TikTok to identify culture shocks people typically face in Aotearoa.

The study involved searching “culture shock in New Zealand” and analysing the 20 most viewed and liked videos to identify common topics, according to Remitly, the company behind the study.

In New Zealand, people were mostly confronted by people’s footwear, language and tipping culture.

The top culture shock was people walking barefoot outside and around shops. As any Kiwi can attest, it’s not unusual to see some wandering around a supermarket or ducking into a diary sans-jandals, more often in a beach town.

Kiwis aren't afraid to ditch their shoes, in nature or in the supermarket.

In second place was how regularly people use cuss words. In a post shared on social media platform Reddit in 2021, dozens of Kiwis admitted to the habit.

“I feel NZ and Oz have embraced swearing as a part of our everyday Kiwi Aussie culture,” one person wrote.

However, many said that swear words don’t have as strong of a meaning in New Zealand.

“When I lived in North America it became very apparent. They didn’t understand how swearing doesn’t have to be malicious,” another person said, adding that even on the radio stations in the US, it was “very PG-13″.

The third thing visitors and expats were most unsettled by was not needing to tip at cafes, bars and restaurants.

Unlike the US and parts of Asia or Europe, New Zealand does not have a tipping culture. This doesn’t mean we give gratuity for outstanding service, rather, it’s rarely an expectation.

According to the same study, Australia shared the first two culture shocks with New Zealand, swearing and shoelessness. However, instead of tipping culture, Australian visitors were most surprised by the abundance of mullets.

The top 3 New Zealand culture shocks, according to TikTok

1. Walking barefoot outside and around shops.

2. Lots of swearing.

3. Lack of tipping at cafes, bars and restaurants.


This article was first published by the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission. 

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