Kiwi Slang Decoder

Hey mate, do you need a hand figuring out the meaning behind some of New Zealand’s unique phrases? Here’s our handy guide to decipher if it's a yeah or a nah, if sick means good or bad, and if being a hard-out is too easy, aye.

Yeah, nah Ever go to answer a question, but can’t quite make up your mind and need a beat to decide? That’s where a ‘yeah, nah’ comes in perfectly in Kiwi-speak. It’s a loose way of saying ‘no’ or ‘not really’, and gives the speaker a pause to figure out what they mean too. A “yeah, nah” is a “not really”, or a “let me think about that”.

“Did you get good weather on your trip”

“Yeah, nah it was actually quite rainy”

Sick More commonly used in New Zealand surf and skate culture, sick means ‘really good’ or ‘impressive’, when spoken out of the traditional context.

“Did you catch some sick waves?”

“Yeah, nah the surf was quite flat”

Hard-out Regarded as a nation of humble, quiet achievers, to be a “hard out” means to try a lot at something, or to respond to something with great enthusiasm. Or both.

“Wow, look at her surfing that big wave!”

“Yeah that’s hard-out!”

Too easy If you ask a New Zealander to do something, and they respond with a ‘too easy’, that means “yes, no worries”.

“Can you give me a ride to the dairy on your way to the beach?”

“Too easy”

Aye Do you find yourself wondering why Kiwi ask so many questions? Or are they really asking anything at all? The upward inflection at the end of spoken sentences can often indicate a question, but for a Kiwi – it’s just our natural candour of speech. Add in the rhetorical filler-sound of ‘aye’, and you’ve got yourself a prime example of New Zealand slang.

“We’re taking my car, aye”

“Yeah, nah let’s take mine.”