The New Zealand Dairy

Milton Street Dairy by Goeftheref on Flickr

Where would Kiwis be without the local dairy? Certainly situations such as running out of the milk needed for the perfect cup of tea or not having enough snacks to share while watching a film on TV could get quite hairy. Well, OK, it’s not as dramatic as all that, but the dairy, the local word for a small shop, is an important part of New Zealand culture.

You can find a dairy on just about every corner or, at the very least, in every neighbourhood in New Zealand. In fact, if you move into a new house one of the first things you’d do would be to spot how far away the local dairy is in case of an emergency need for chocolate…I mean…ahem, milk.

There’s nothing really special about a dairy except for the fact that they sell just about everything you need in a pinch. They have milk, cheese and ice cream, but it’s not just dairy products anymore. You can buy that great New Zealand delicacy, the pie, from a pie warmer if you are feeling peckish, and you can also get all manner of tinned goods and instant noodles. Plus, there’s a multitude of snacks such as chips/ crisps (often called chippies), biscuits and lollies! What, you didn’t know Kiwis use the word lolly for sweets/ candy? Did you know about the famous chocolate fish, one of our favourites? You can buy those in a dairy. Have you lost the button off your shirt and need to sew it back on? You can bet you’ll find a needle and cotton somewhere in amongst the sunscreen and mossie spray. You can even pick up a magazine or newspaper to find out the latest news about last night’s rugby match.

In short, you can find most things you need in a hurry in a New Zealand dairy and we’d be lost without them. Someone has even dedicated a Flickr group to the humble dairy. If you come to New Zealand, I’ll bet you’ll find yourself in need of a dairy within the first 24 hours. Go on. Just try and prove me wrong!

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About the author

Marie Szamborski
Marie lives in Auckland, New Zealand but was born in the United States and is a dual-national. She has lived in five countries altogether but sees New Zealand as her real home base. She loves travel, and living in multi-cultural Auckland is the next best thing to being out there.
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  • Why is it that your posts leave me craving…wonderful post.

  • Interesting name. I suppose it’s from when most houses didn’t have refridgerators and needed to buy milk etc as they needed it? Our UK version is called the corner shop, a bit less imaginative! Very nice post.

  • That’s exactly what it reminded me of: corner shops. i think they’re convenience stores in the U.S. but they are not nearly as common as in NZ or the UK, at least where I live. We have “kioscos’ or “el almacen de la esquina” in Argentina, but sadly the latter are a dying breed because of supermarkets.

    I still crave chocolate fish!

  • Sanjay I think it’s because I always end up talking about food. I’m trying hard to be diverse in my posts but old habits die hard.

    Liz and Ana- yes, I think supermarkets are doing their hardest to eleiminate cornershops, dairies and kioscos, but I guess as long as people run out of milk for their tea or have chocolate fish cravings they will, hopefully, remain.

    Maybe we need to start an international chocolate exchange so I can get these fish on their travels:-)

  • Mmm… chocolate fish. Oh, and those chocolate-liquorice logs. And and… :)

  • rebecca

    your dairy is our aussie milkbar :)

  • Sophie, chocolate licorice logs are the best!

    Bec- OOoooooohhhhhh! I’ve always wondered what that was. I had the Aussie milkbar up there with Uluru and the Sydney Opera House as my own personal wonders of Australia. I thought it was a place you could buy thick shakes or smoothies because they had milkbars in the U.S. in the 50s and they were malt shops (according to my Mum!).

  • The Rob Roy Dairy in Dunedin no longer sports an ice cream logo on their awning but that’s where I frequently procured my Hokey pokey fix.. even in July.