Life as an expat is amusing. Some days it’s ecstasy – biking down an ocean road to a wine tasting. Other days it’s confusion. Why does the toilet flush so aggressively it splashes on your clothes, while a bottle of water costs five bucks? In our first few weeks in New Zealand, I’ve observed some aspects of the kiwi culture that make sense … and some that leave me scratching my head. I’ve decided to start documenting these observations in a series called sense/senseless. A look at one aspect of life in NZ that gets it right and wrong.
SENSE: Tipping is not expected at bars (or restaurants). And tax is included in the price. So when you see $12 beside the whitebait fritters on the menu, that’s the price you pay out the door. New Zealand is considered a true merit-based tipping culture, and yet despite excellent service pretty much everywhere, I’ve not seen a single person tip. Waiters and bartenders instead are paid at least the minimum wage of $14.25, meaning their salary is not passed on to the patron as it is in America. Which makes sense!