Learning time: Travel Taboo – New Zealand

There’s always some travel taboos no matter where you are going. Learning them in advance of your travel helps you learn the country’s customs, rules and laws. This will not only expanding your knowledge base, but also let the people from the country feel comfortable with your existence, especially when you display respect their customs.

Listed are the travel taboos of my next destination country – New Zealand.

New Zealand Travel Dont’s

  • Do not smoke. Smoking is banned in pubs and restaurants as well as on public transport or in public buildings. (No wonder dad refused to go NZ)
  • Do not overstay your welcome.
  • Do not tip, which is not customary in New Zealand. However, do tip if the services are outstanding.
  • Do not make the “V for Victory” sign. (According to wikipedia, this is an insult?!)
  • Do not eat food until it has been blessed in Maori. (So far I have yet to eat food with any Maori before, not sure if this still stands)
  • Do not be late for an appointment, nor to make promises which you can’t keep or make exaggerated claims. (Think this is quite a basic courtesy?)
  • Do not stand in the middle of the road and hold up traffic when taking pictures, watch out for cars.  (Think this is quite common sense =.=”)
  • Do not wrap your gifts in red. Red is the taboo color in New Zealand.
  • Do not touch the head and hair of others, especially of a chief, which are particularly taboo or sacred; to touch a man’s head is a gross insult. (Think this is quite a common taboo for many countries…)

New Zealand Travel Do’s

  • Do shake hands for greeting and keep eye contact during greetings. The first name is used after introductions.
  • Do respect and enjoy the company of fellow members.
  • Do dress conservatively and formally for business occasions. Dark suits with a conservative tie and white shirt for men. Suits, dresses, or skirts and blouses for women. Wear casual attire for informal occasions.
  • Do open your gift upon receipt, and give gifts such as flowers, chocolate, liquor, or a book about your home country.
  • Do bring your own beer (B.Y.O.) if invited to a barbecue. You may also be invited to bring your own meat or a salad.
  • Do visit a marae, which is a sacred place that serves both social and religious purposes in Maori society. Do follow the lead for the protocol of welcoming and greeting in Maori.
  • Do keep your hands above the table, but don’t put your elbows on the table. Put your fork and knife parallel on the plate with the handles facing to the right when you are done eating.
  • Do understand that the word “kiwi” is not an offensive name when referring to New Zealanders. They will call themselves kiwis, too!

The last time I went to New Zealand is like 11 years ago, didn’t really watch out for the taboos but since we travel in a group I just follow closely to what my other travel mates did. I guess end of the day what I will do it still:

  1. Admit that I am a foreigner and is an ignorant one
  2. If I make any silly mistake, just learnt the lesson and do not repeat it again.

Information credits: Travel Taboo/

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