Social Customs and Activities

There are many customs unique to New Zealand from food to hospitality and sports.

Visiting a New Zealander at Home

New Zealanders enjoy visiting each other in their homes. When they are invited for a meal, people often take a small gift such as a bunch of flowers, a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer. You could offer to take  a salad or a dessert.  If a guest is not hungry or thirsty, it is all right to leave food on your plate and to say no to the offer of food or drink.

You may wish to bring to New Zealand small, inexpensive gifts from your own country to give to your host if you are asked for a meal.  

Diet and Eating

Traditional British-style big breakfasts and hearty meals of meat and potatoes have gradually given way to a more diverse and health-conscious diet. New Zealanders have long eaten beef, pork, mutton, fish, and poultry. Fruit is plentiful, as are dairy products. New Zealand also produces fine wines. Popular takeaway foods include fish and chips, sandwiches, and filled bread rolls. In the main cities, restaurants serve a wide range of cuisine, including Thai, Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, Greek, and Mexican.

New Zealanders generally eat three meals a day, and many still enjoy the tradition inherited from the British of taking afternoon tea at about 3pm or 4pm. The main meal is usually eaten in the evening between 6pm and 7pm, although it is more likely to be around 8pm when dining out.


Sport plays a very big part in the lives of most New Zealanders. Rugby is the most popular sport in the winter; the All Blacks national team are renowned. Football is also popular. In summer, cricket takes over. Many other sports are enjoyed during the year, including tennis, bowls, athletics, golf, horse riding, swimming, and sailing (many families own a boat of some kind). There are also considerable opportunities for mountaineering, walking, and fishing (both deep-sea and freshwater), and some opportunities for hunting. Other recreational activities include making improvements to the home, gardening, watching television, and socializing at home or in a pub.

Helpful Māori words to know

  • Haere mai - Welcome 
  • Kia ora - Hello 
  • Marae - a Maori meeting house and the land around it 
  • Hangi - a meal cooked underground 
  • Kai - Food 
  • Pakeha - a person of European ethnicity 
  • Kiwi - a famous New Zealand bird that cannot fly (Kiwi is also used to refer to people and things linked to New Zealand, such as 'the Kiwi team' or 'a Kiwi accent'.) 

Follow us on the web

Whitireia and WelTec have formed a strategic partnership to develop
a network of tertiary learning throughout the Wellington region.
Whitireia and WelTec partnership