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New Zealand Tipping Protocol, New Zealand Gratuities, & New Zealand Culture

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Reports &

Do's and Don'ts in New Zealand


  • DO dress conservatively and formally for business occasions. Men should wear dark suits with a conservative tie and white shirt. Women should wear suits, dresses, or skirts and blouses in modest colours.
  • DO wear casual attire for less formal occasions. Keep your clothes neat.


  • DO keep your hands above the table, but don't put your elbows on the table, either!
  • DO put your fork and knife parallel on the plate with the handles facing to the right when you are done eating.
  • DON'T be loud and obnoxious while drinking.
  • DO expect afternoon tea between 3 and 4 PM. Tea is between 6 and 8 PM, served along with a meal. Supper is a light snack, such as coffee and dessert, and is served later.


  • DO open your gift upon receipt.
  • DO give gifts such as flowers, chocolate, liquor, or a book about your home country.

Visting Someone's Home

  • DO bring your hosts a gift.
  • 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 make an appointment at least a week in advance, by fax, phone, or email. Avoid December and January, which is summer vacation in New Zealand.
  • DON'T be late! It will make an incredibly bad impression.
  • DON'T expect New Zealanders to try to negotatiate. It's not part of their culture, so start negotations realistically.
  • DON'T make promises you can't keep or make exaggerated claims.
  • DO be direct and honest.

Marae Visits

  • DO visit a marae, which a sacred place that serves both social and religious purposes in Maori society. Maori are the indigneous Polynesian people of New Zealand. If you wish to visit a marae, you should do so in an organized marae visit.
  • DON'T enter a marae without seeking permission first.
  • DO follow the lead of those around you, as there is often protocol to be followed in Maori welcoming and greeting, but the protocol can vary.
  • DON'T eat food until it has been blessed.
  • DO show your gratitude and respect by singing a song from your home country.
  • DO ask permission before photographing Maori buildings or landmarks.


  • DO exchange handshakes and smiles upon greeting someone. Maintain eye contact during greetings.
  • DO wait for a woman to extend her hand for a handshake first.
  • DO say "How do you do?" when first meeting someone. Once you get to know a person "Hello" is an acceptable greeting.
  • DO understand that the word "kiwi" is not an offensive name when referring to New Zealanders. They will call themselves kiwis, too!
  • DON'T confuse New Zealanders with Australians.

New Zealand Tipping Customs

Tipping is not part of New Zealand culture and is often treated with suspicion or actively frowned upon, as many people view it as a largely American custom that over-compensates certain workers while others are left out; additionally there is a feeling that tipping is paying twice for one service. Despite this, some forms of tipping are common, such as rounding up a taxi fare. It is almost as likely, however, that the taxi driver will round the fare down to the nearest dollar. Some cafes keep a jar on the counter marked "tips for staff" in which customers can leave small change. Occasionally tips are given in a restaurant for exceptional service; particularly in the larger cities like Wellington or Auckland. Others may feel that the people who do this are being ostentatious and showing off their wealth. New Zealanders travelling overseas often find the custom difficult and confusing.

However, many New Zealanders travel and live in other countries, often returning to New Zealand; bringing the tipping habit back with them.

In general, people who perform a service in New Zealand, such as waiters and hairdressers, are tipped with a smile and a thank you. This is considered reasonable because their average wage is substantially larger than their American counterparts.

Our New Zealand Tipping Recommendations

  • Taxis and Limos: Tipping optional, Round up to next bill/large coin

  • Airport Shuttles: Not required

  • Hotel Shuttles and Carpark Shuttles: Not required

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