Is Australia just the West Island?
May 3, 2013 3:20 AM   Subscribe

Quick question for folks who've lived in both Australia and NZ: what cultural and language differences did you notice?
posted by superfish to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I'm from NZ and live in Melbourne now. Here are the first things that come to mind for me.

Language: aside from the accent there are only a few differences, for example I had never heard the word rort, or barrack as a verb, before moving here. There are also a few arbitrary differences in terminology, like freeway (Aus) vs motorway (NZ), that seem as if they were purposely put in place to remind us that we are separate nations.

Culture: the biggest thing I notice is sport, Melbourne is all about AFL, with rugby union and league all but ignored. Of course this doesn't hold for the rest of Australia.
The other thing that really struck me is that people use EFTPOS far less here than in NZ, it took me a while to get into the habit of carrying enough cash for a night out, for example.
posted by nomis at 4:14 AM on May 3, 2013

American, but living in Melbourne and having spent months in NZ.

Language-wise the only thing that pops out vividly in my memory is esky (Aus) vs. chilly bin (NZ) as the thing you fill with ice to keep your drinks cold.

Food-wise I was quite surprised by how deer are farmed as a source of meat in NZ. Lots of burger places have a Deer Burger on the menu. Haven't seen that in Australia or the US.

Drink-wise, NZ's boutique beer culture seems light years ahead of Australia's. I feel like it's a struggle to find exciting new beer to try in Australia, but in New Zealand I found ridiculously niche beers in unassuming country bottle shops.
posted by adamk at 5:30 AM on May 3, 2013

American here, married into Australia, been around a fair number of New Zealanders. I've always been told (and have personally observed) that the real tell linguistically between Australian and Kiwi English is the pronunciation of the short "i". So whether it's "feesh and cheeps" (Oz, a little exaggerated but to me that's what it sounds like) or "fush and chups" (NZ). For me it's like the "aboot" pronunciation suddenly making it obvious that someone I assumed was American is actually Canadian.
posted by olinerd at 7:03 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

(sorry, now that I'm re-reading I don't know whether your "language differences" implies an interest in accent differences. My answer may not be useful.)
posted by olinerd at 7:04 AM on May 3, 2013

Oz: thongs
NZ: jandals
Most of the world: flip flops

Australian who has visited NZ, so feel free to take this with massive lumps of salt, but I think that there is a difference in how each country's tourist/park authorities come up with the "estimated time" to complete a short scenic walk (eg a walk of say 60 - 90 minutes). Bear with me here - it is something I really noticed (and have been caught out with in both countries.)

So I'm talking about the little sign at the start of the trail that says "Scenic Walk - 1 hour loop" or similar. In Australia, I tend to finish these walks in half to 2/3rds of the estimated time. This is walking unhurriedly (but not dawdling) and with photo stops etc.

In NZ, I - same person, same average pace etc - would take almost exactly the estimated time. So either NZ is better at estimating, or they walk faster and/or they assume that people walking these trails would walk faster, or Australia bases their estimate on the slowest common denominator or something, but I think there's a difference. Not quite sure if it's a cultural thing, but there you go.
posted by pianissimo at 8:51 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

and australian living in Sydney in a long term relationship with a Pom who lived most of her life in NZ (phew)

She comments on Australia's larger drinking and gambling culture, especially in relation to ANZAC day. Unfortunatly a lot of Australians get absolutely wasted on ANZAC day.

She has also commented (and I've noticed) NZ has a more polite parliament. Australia's Question time can be vicious.
posted by Burgatron at 12:18 PM on May 3, 2013

Football culture in Australia varies from state to state. Victoria and Western Australia are more AFL, to be sure, but rugby is the game up in Queensland (Can't speak for NSW, but I think it's more rugby).
posted by The Notorious SRD at 12:36 PM on May 3, 2013

I'm a Kiwi who has lived in Australia for a little over two years.

There isn't too much of a language difference I find - generally its mainly brand name things. People don't understand if I ask for cellotape (sticky tape) or twink (white out). I think I would have more trouble with Australian names for things if I hadn't grown up reading Australian books like Tomorrow When the War Began.

I have trouble with the accent sometimes. Small children with high pitched voices can be hard to understand. Also I find it very hard to pronounce Cairns correctly on the first try. Australians also find it hard to understand my name when I say it (Pip) because of my pronuncation of the i.

ANZAC day was a bit of a shock. I live in Darwin so there is a large military population who go out on the town drinking after the parades. It's the only day they're allowed to drink in uniform (apart from the Army aren't allowed to and wear suits instead). Even just seeing people in military uniforms day to day was weird at first. Australia day is another holiday that was a shock. We don't have a holiday comparable back home and I don't think anyone would really go for showing that much patriotism.

People are really proud of being Australian whereas Kiwis think NZ is alright. We'll defend it if to anyone who insults it but we wouldn't have a flag outside our house or place of work and not many people would get the Southern Cross tattooed on their arm or back.

AFL is a religion and when people talk about Rugby they mean League. Rugby (Union) doesn't really get a look in.

I agree about EFTPOS being used less here. Thank god for paywave because I still haven't got used to carrying cash and they often don't have a minimum limit on transactions using paywave.
posted by poxandplague at 5:42 PM on May 3, 2013

I've lived most of my life in NZ and has been in Perth for nearly 3 years. I agree with pretty much everything said above.

Sweet potato = kumara in NZ. (Also, there are no kumara chips at takeaways! and the frozen ones sold in supermarkets are completely different :( )

A lot of Australians didn't understand "flats", "flatting" or "flatmates" when I used it (ie. living in a shared house)

In NZ, I'm pretty sure EFTPOS transactions are free no matter the amount. I used to work at an ice cream place and I remember a customer using EFTPOS for 50c. It is extremely common in Australia that there'll be a sign saying "no EFTPOS under $10" etc.

Tea costs money in Australia at Chinese restaurants.

A lot of cashiers will ask you for your account before handing you the EFTPOS machine In Australia, whereas in NZ you're expected to input your own account (savings, cheque or credit)
posted by fallsauce at 11:00 PM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

A lot of Australians didn't understand "flats", "flatting" or "flatmates" when I used it (ie. living in a shared house)

Yes; we call it 'living in a share house'.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:45 AM on May 5, 2013

I'm an Australian, living in Australia. The biggest difference between the two countries IMO is the totally different places of first/Indigenous people, and migrants, in the culture. They're totally, unrecognisably, different.

New Zealand as a country has a strong, politically active Māori minority and most non-Māori New Zealanders I've ever encountered have a developed sense of the islands' colonial history and the uneasy race relationship. White people call themselves Pakeha living in Aotearoa unironically, Waitangi is a central part of national mythology, the national anthem is bilingual, and so on. The country as a whole is much more oriented to the Pacific and to Polynesia than Australia is.

Australia by comparison has no such strong Aboriginal minority—there's an incredibly vast diversity of Aboriginal identities and groups—and non-Aboriginal people's awareness of Aboriginal people and issues ranges from moderate to minimal (and I'm ashamed to say, to the very bigoted). The equivalent Australian national mythos, of a basis to national identity, is about immigration and multiculturalism, especially from Southern Europe and East Asia.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 7:16 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Only just noticed this question, not sure you're still interested, but anyways... aussie, my dad is from New Zealand, I've been there a lot and have had a lot of kiwi housemates. So reasonably well informed.

This wikipedia article has more to say about language differences than i could write. For some reason my good friend/housemate (flatmate, yes in disagreement with fallsauce, I'd use that word (also, you don't pay for green tea at any vietnamese restaurants)) never got used to the term milk bar, always still called it a dairy. The funniest difference for me was judder bars for speed humps.

Culturally, yes the indigenous relations are hugely different. Nearly all the young (Pākehā) dudes I knew wore hei-matau and were very keen to let me know just how down they were with Māori culture. But New Zealand youth culture seems to have only two varieties. You were either a bro who was all alternative and put Māori words into your speech (and got stoned a lot), or you were a rural yob who wore All Blacks merchandise. Obviously talking in cliches here.

Australia is much more culturally diverse, due to size and immigration policies, it's much more outward looking. Kiwis seem prouder of their environment and the natural beauty of their country.

Australia is now far wealthier (on an individual basis) so I think there's more conspicuous consumption. Flashier cars.
posted by wilful at 7:37 PM on August 8, 2013

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