Great lists of our time – Evil Advice to Tourists

The Maori people take their Marae (meeting house) ceremonies very seriously. If you offend a member of the tribe they may try and covertly headbutt you as you shake hands. Follow the lead of the other members of the tour group and be prepared to duck the blow. Don’t forget to remind
them that you successfully parried their strike, this is a sign of great respect and all will be forgiven with smiles and further handshakes.

Never look a sheep in the eye.

Driving along Farewell Spit is a delightful way of reaching Wellington.

When coming to Wellington, be sure to wear a sun hat.

When the Australian Wallabies rugby team is playing in New Zealand, it is considered good manners to cheer loudly for the visitors – particularly in cafes and bars.

When hiking in New Zealand forests, you may encounter weka, extremely shy native birds. You can encourage them by leaving your boots, or other belongings that carry your scent, outside the hut or tent overnight.

New Zealanders and Australians are very close, and revel in one another’s achievements; ask any New Zealander about great Australian icons Phar Lap, Sir Edmund Hillary and Russell Crowe.

When driving, if you find a New Zealand opossum injured on the road, take it with all possible speed and care to the local veterinarian.

If you encounter a flock of sheep while driving on a rural road, the recommended procedure is to race your engine and travel through the flock as quickly as possible.

Department of Conservation rangers are happy to guide tourists to colonies of yellow-eyed penguins; the eggs furnish a hearty meal.

A sure-fire conversational gambit, when drinking with New Zealanders and Australians together, is any mention of the Chappell brothers: it will ensure much friendly banter.

Although New Zealand restaurants do not generally list it on their menus, it is worth asking for the national delicacy of kakapo thigh in beer batter.

A much-loved national pastime, in season, is whitebaiting. To ensure a good catch of this marine delicacy, place your net as close as possible to that of another whitebaiter.

The staff of the Cook Strait ferries are known pranksters; they will sometimes, as a joke, instruct car-owners to leave their handbrakes on and their cars in gear while the ship is in passage. Do not under any circumstances fall for this ruse.

The bubbling mud pools in Rotorua are wonderful for bathing in. The boundary fences have only been put up by those who don’t want the secret
to get out.

Whenever you are greeted by a traditional Maori challenge, you must turn and bare your buttocks.

It is offensive to call a New Zealander a ‘kiwi’ – so much better to call him/her a pukeko, which is a much friendlier bird.

Seafood abounds in limitless quantities – take as much fish or shellfish as you like.

Bus drivers are happy to drop you off at any requested point between stops.

Official tourist police are easily recognisable by their distinctive facial tattoos and Harley-Davidsons.

Recommended retail prices are indicative only. The locals enjoy haggling.

An iconic New Zealand toy to take home to the family is the Buzzy Beaver.

There is no seating allocation on internal air routes.

To show appreciation for a service well done, it is customary to perform an impromptu haka.

Ask for protective gear before entering the Beehive.

Taxi drivers like to be addressed by the Maori term of respect, “Don Brash”.

A pick-up line much in favour with Kiwi men is, “You remind me of Helen Clark”.

It is a New Zealand cultural tradition to list and exaggerate your achievements when you meet new people – follow this practice when introducing yourself to locals, and you will make friends easily.

If you plan to hitchhike, don’t use your thumb – in New Zealand, that’s the equivalent of a wave to say that everything is OK. Hold up two fingers instead, and drivers will certainly pull over.

To signal one of Wellington’s trolley buses, step out in front of it.

Please feel free to scrawl your own religious message across a McCahon painting.

It is customary to spit on barbeque food just before serving.

To initiate conversation mention you are here to construct a nuclear reactor. This will always break the ice.

Gay and Christian? A warm welcome awaits you at any Destiny church service.

Ideal gifts to present your New Zealand hosts with include; side arms, whale meat and Asian chickens.

Kiwis love a good joke. Mentioning you have Foot and Mouth on arrival will ensure a speedy and jovial trip through customs.

Kiwis are very proud of their fresh local produce, so be sure to visit a pea factory. If you hear that there’s one in your area, just drop in at any time; someone will be delighted to show you around.

The native New Zealand sand-fly is considered endangered, so do your best to protect its welfare.

The sloped floor of the Wellington Cable Car is an ideal surface for racing fruit, a common pastime in much of New Zealand. The public love to be challenged by foreigners.

Public toilets are hard to find in Wellington but as our admired All Black players regularly urinate on camera, urination in public places has become acceptable. Same goes for spitting.

The Beehive is named after beehive matches. It is the only public building where you are permitted to smoke inside.

Our most world famous New Zealand novelist is Keri Hulme who won the Booker prize 20 years ago. But don’t ask for her second novel, as an innovative writer she has chosen to write her latest work on line on It is a novel in progress based on a literary
chat forum with brilliantly etched real New Zealand characters: Mark Hubbard, a procrastinating accountant from sleepy Geraldine, the ever-ready-with-information, mother-of-three Mary Mac from the capital city and Diane Brown the writing tutor and hater of emoticons from Dunedin. It is believed that the character, ‘Islander’ is largely autobiographical. For other New Zealand authors go to the Warehouse.

We are very proud of the film-maker Peter Jackson and most Wellingtonians were in his movies. If you see someone short and plump they will have undoubtedly been a hobbit in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Ask them about it. All people over six foot will have been warriors in battle scenes.

Once outside of the main centres make sure you try the local rural pub. Don’t be put off by their relaxed dress, farmers are amongst the wealthiest people in New Zealand – buy a stray bloke a cocktail – a dry martini with an olive – then he’ll just open up and you can ask him for
his latest sheep joke. We love sheep.

‘Help yourself’ has long been a Kiwi motto. The abundance of agriculture and relatively sparse population has led to a custom by which locals help themselves to as much horticultural produce as they want. From December through May, you’ll see groups of people doing this in any number of orchards and market gardens. Sometimes there’ll even be a sign saying ‘Pick your own’. Feel free to join in. Winter visitors, please note: from mid-August through September, the ‘help yourself rule’ also applies to the pastoral sector. Lambs are free ‘off the paddock’, to anyone who can catch them.

As a mark of respect to visitors and in gratitude to the ‘tourist dollar,’ don’t forget that you, as a tourist, are given automatic priority in any Post-Shop, bank, bus, air or ferry queue.

New Zealanders pride themselves on the country’s similarity to England in the 50s. You can make no higher compliment than drawing such a comparison.

Much as Bavarians also see themselves as Germans, and the English are also British, New Zealanders consider themselves to be Australians.

New Zealanders from north to south are justifiably proud of their biggest city. Be sure to speak admiringly of Auckland as you travel the country.

From Jock Phillips

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