What to expect when you've been invited out in New Zealand

People in New Zealand having a shared dinner

Kiwis are very social people and they like to catch up with friends, family and colleagues, especially over food or drinks. There are some common phrases Kiwis will use to describe these different get togethers, but they are not always literal! This is a short guide to some of the more common social gatherings in New Zealand.

“Going for coffee”

Kiwis will often suggest they ‘go for coffee;. This simply describes an informal catch up, perhaps during work or study, or on the weekends, that is not at a specific mealtime (e.g. breakfast / lunch). You can choose to drink whatever you like (including tea or other refreshments!)

“Having a barbie”

You may be asked to come over to someone’s house for a ‘barbie’ (barbecue).  This is a casual dinner where most of the meat will be cooked outside on the barbecue and you may bring some food to contribute like a salad, pre-dinner snacks or some meat to cook on the barbecue.

“Potluck” or “bring a plate”

If you’re asked to bring a plate or come to a ‘potluck’, it means everyone will contribute a dish of food to the meal. ‘Bring a plate’ means to not just bring a plate of food but to bring a contribute to the meal. 

“Having a couple of drinks”

This is the way New Zealanders describe a catch up in the evening, perhaps after work, or before going out for dinner or some other event. It is acceptable to bring drinks either alcoholic or non-alcoholic to a private social gathering – this is now quite common – but you need to be over 18 to buy alcohol in New Zealand.

It is important to plan how you will get home safely if you are drinking alcohol. Local laws allow for a very low amount of alcohol to be in your system when you drive.  If you drink alcohol it is best not to drive. 

People having a barbecue in New Zealand

Not sure what to talk about?

New Zealanders are friendly and relatively open people – good subjects to start a conversation are to ask about their family, talk about the weather, favourite sports or hobbies and travel plans.

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