The Culture Guide: 5 Things You Should Not Do When Visiting New Zealand

New Zealand is one of those countries that will take your breath away with beautiful scenery and clean, soft sandy beaches. Where ever you travel, though, it’s important to remember you are a guest and respect your host. There are some things you might think are no big deal, but that will be offensive to the kind people of New Zealand. So while you plan your trip to this amazing country, here are five things to avoid doing. 

1. Don’t Be Disrespectful to the Native Culture

Part of the charm of New Zealand is the chance to experience a unique culture there – the Maori. Do your homework before you leave and learn more about the Maori people. Certain parts of the country are sacred to them. That doesn’t mean you can’t see them, but you need to respect their culture and land while there. 

Avoid smoking, learn a few Maori words so you can understand some of their language, and don’t put your hands on tapu or sacred objects. If invited to a powhiri Maori welcoming ceremony, do as they ask. If they sing, you sing. When they eat, you eat, too. 

2. Don’t Compare New Zealand to Australia

It is a common error for newbie tourists to the country and one they don’t take kindly. Also, don’t assume New Zealand is part of Australia just because it is off the coast of its neighbor. They are very different countries and cultures. If you want to visit Australia, plan your trip there and don’t go to New Zealand. If you want to see both, know that they are different. 

3. Don’t Turn Your Nose Up at Their Traditional Food

If you are interested in enjoying New Zealand and everything beautiful there, then be open-minded about their food. The Maori have their own food culture, too, and it might surprise you how much you love it. If it doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of other types of cuisine in the country, so move on without comment. You might find you like it if you are willing to try it, though. 

4. Don’t Abuse the Tapu

In the Maori language, tapu means head. You should avoid touching someone’s head because in New Zealand culture, tapu is sacred. You should also be careful how you treat things that involve the head, such as hats. You wouldn’t put your hat on the table, for example. You shouldn’t throw pillows around, either.

5. Don’t Put Anything on the Table

Don’t sit at tables, especially if they have food on them. It is considered impolite to place your bottom or bag on the table. You should also avoid sitting on pillows or cushions, but you can use them to support your back.

New Zealand done right will definitely take your breath away.