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What is Kiwiana?

No, it is not a female kiwi.

The question that is on every backpacker’s lips when they come to New Zealand: what is Kiwiana? What is this made-up word? (Ok, maybe it’s not on every backpacker’s lips, but we have to make this interesting). So let’s sort this out once and for all!

If you want to learn about the New Zealand culture, you must learn about “Kiwiana”. Kiwiana is such an emblem of New Zealand that there is even a whole town dubbed the “Kiwiana Town” with its own “Kiwiana Committee”. Find out more about this Kiwiana town in the article below. You’ll also learn the definition of Kiwiana and what objects make up Kiwiana all is the text below. Before the end of this article, you will be ready to walk out into the land of New Zealand with a deep and meaningful understanding of Kiwiana that will change the way you see the world forever. Ok, we’ve gone too far so here’s the article.


This article will answer the burning questions:

  • What is the definition of “Kiwiana”?
  • What are the Kiwiana items?
  • Is there a town dedicated to Kiwiana? Because there should be!
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The definition of “Kiwiana”

So here it is, the moment you have all been waiting for. Here is the definition of Kiwiana:

“Any of the many ‘collectables’, items redolent of New Zealand life and culture.” – Oxford N.Z. Dictionary.

So that’s anything to do with New Zealand culture and heritage. But, as you will soon discover, they are usually quite quirky things.


What are some Kiwiana items?

Buzzy Bee: A old New Zealand toy, which is a bee you pull along the floor and its wings spin around.

Fush n’ Chups: What can we say, Kiwis love fish and chips.

Hokey Pokey Ice Cream: Hokey Pokey is basically the New Zealand word for honeycomb.

Jandals: New Zealanders call flip-flops/thongs/sandals “jandals” so therefore it is Kiwiana. Plus, they wear them a lot. Learn how to say other New Zealandisms in Talk like a New Zealander / Talk like a Kiwi.

Kiwi: The national bird.

Tomato Sauce Bottle: A bottle shaped like a tomato. Makes a fun gift for the family and friends at home.

L&P: New Zealand fizzy drink invention.

Kiwifruit: Because it happens to have the same name as the bird so New Zealand just went with it. Also, New Zealand grows kiwis.

Pavlova: A New Zealand desert. Learn how to make one here.

Tiki: The Maori symbol for the first mortal man.


There’s a town dedicated to Kiwiana!

Otorohanga in the central North Island is also known as Kiwiana Town!

Otorohanga has big images of Kiwiana hanging from the street lights. It all began in 1971 when Otorohanga opened the first kiwi house in New Zealand. This escalated in 1999 when a marketing executive had the idea to extend the ‘kiwi town’ into a ‘Kiwiana town’. One other Kiwiana attractions are the Ed Hillary Walkway which is a mini outdoor museum, of course, dedicated to all things New Zealand.

Find out more about Otorohanga, a must-stop on the way to the Waitomo Caves, by checking out Waikato – Guide for Backpackers.


Kiwiana foods you have to try

Food that New Zealanders love!

  • Pavlova
  • Afghan cookies
  • Ginger Crunch
  • Fish n’ chips
  • Macaroni Cheese
  • Tim Tams
  • Jaffas
  • Whittakers
  • Tip Top Ice Cream

For a full detailed guide to New Zealand food, check out 10 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand.

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