Food and culture Say g'day to the downunder spirit

Where kia ora means hello

Known as Kiwis, the locals have a genuine, friendly and down-to-earth nature, with a relaxed way of life and a mix of cultures.

As well as English, native Maori is also recognised, and their influence is everywhere – town and street names, customs, carvings and patterns in everyday life. Seeing the mighty ‘haka’ or Maori war dance is simply unreal, and if you’re lucky, you might catch an impromptu singalong too.

You’ll often see Kiwis out and about – they love their outdoor activities, as well as the cafe life. They’re passionate about their sport too, especially when it comes to rugby.

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Sample the tastes

New Zealand has a great cafe scene, and there are tons of places, especially in Wellington, to chat over a coffee or have brunch.

On most tours, we give you the chance to try a local Maori favourite, a ‘hangi’, with food like ‘kumara’ (sweet potato), pork and chicken cooked in a covered pit. Lamb and steaks are legendary, and so is the fresh fruit and seafood – even the fish and chips and meat pies are good! You won’t be far from gourmet Asian cuisine either.

Keep your eye out for pavlova, a meringue-style treat topped with cream and fruit. And remember to ask for 'kiwifruit' or the locals will think you're wanting the native kiwi bird.

Chill with a drink

Sit and have a glass of New Zealand’s world class wine in a waterfront bar, or try a locally brewed beer. Or relax with an original flat white coffee or can of famous L&P soft drink.

Meet the wildlife.

New Zealand isn’t famous for creepy crawlies, but the wildlife it does have is pretty unique. If you’re lucky, you might just see an endangered Kiwi (a nocturnal flightless bird), tuatara (its relatives lived at the time of the dinosaurs), kea and tui birds, and the weta, an unusual looking creature with spiky legs and a hard-shell.

The sea has some fantastic sights too, with whales to spot off the Kaikoura coast in the South Island, dolphins, seals, sea lions and penguins.

Great shopping

Many of the local finds unique to New Zealand come from the land and sea. Take home a pair of sheepskin boots, an All Blacks rugby shirt, honey moisturiser or thermal mud packs or treat someone to a beautiful greenstone carving (it’s considered bad luck to buy your own!).

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