Posted by: Vallere | March 25, 2011

Friday’s Flipside Five – Household Eddition

Welcome back to our second volume of FFF! This week we are going to focus on household differences.

Let’s start off in the bathroom – which is called the toilet in NZ. IE, “Ian, do you need to go toilet?”  The “bathroom” is different from the “toilet”. A “toilet” is a room that has a…well, a toilet. A bathroom has the tub or shower, and may or may not have a toilet. In our house we have a toilet (room with a toilet and sink), a bathroom (room with a tub, shower, and sink), and a full bath (has a shower, sink and toilet). It’s all very confusing.

But to get back to our FFF, here are a couple of difference that can be found in toilets/restrooms/bathrooms throughout NZ, as well as other household differences. Enjoy!

1) “Those weird sinks”

Well, that’s what Ian calls them, anyway. It is common to find, in a toilet, a very tiny sink. Our toilet (half-bath) is barely big enough to fit the toilet (commode) and the person sitting on it, much less a full-sized sink. So instead they have these:

It’s a very narrow sink – just big enough to wash your hands in. I honestly think it’s a great idea and is perfect for little half-baths where you aren’t worrying about someone having room around the sink for toothbrushes or hair-do items. When all you need is a sink to wash your hands in after you do your business, this is really all you need.

2) Two-Flush Toilets

Again, I think these are fabulous. I think they are trying to work their way into American society, but they are incredibly common in NZ. Not all of the toilets have a two-flush system, but you’re at least as apt to see them as not. The way they work is that there are two buttons you can push for flushing – one does a full flush (for when you’ve got a lot of…um…stuff…to flush down) and the other does a half flush (for disposing of liquid waste). No sense is wasting a whole tank of water when half’ll do!

3) Outlets

The outlets here, apart from being shaped differently from the ones in America, have on/off switches. This is nice for things like space heaters or air popcorn poppers that don’t have their own on/off switches…but maybe bad for things like the fridge, because we all know how much little kids like flipping switches (a friend has told me a horror story about her toddler son vs her mom’s fridge…lets just say it didn’t end well). The orange dot indicates that the top outlet is on.

4) Light Switches

Light switches here turn on backwards. You flip them up to turn them off…

And down to turn them on…

I *still* can’t get it right in my head! In the boys’ room, where there are 2 lights (with both switches on the same faceplate), it’s terribly confusing to me. If one light is on and one is off, and I want them both to be off, I will end up turning them both on (and then fussing at myself) every time!

5) Clothes Dryer

Meet my clothes dryer:

It’s automatic…constantly on…energy efficient…and, every now and then, runs your clothes through another rinse cycle if you don’t pay attention to the weather. 😮

Everyone in New Zealand has a clothes line. Other than the hotel we stayed in our first 2 days here, I’ve yet to see an electric dryer (and even the hotel had a laundry line for those who weren’t under a time crunch to get their clothes dry). I gotta say, I LOVE my laundry line. It’ll hold 2 full loads, and honestly, there are very few things that make you feel more productive than seeing laundry hanging to dry.

The weather here is so mild that I think we’ll have no trouble hanging clothes to dry all year round. And, if it does get too cold and damp in the winter, I have a little rack I can sit beside the wood stove that should work just as well.


Well, that does it for this week’s FFF! If you have any specific questions or items you want me to feature in the coming weeks, please let me know in the comments! I think next week’s FFF will be about phrases…we’ll see!

I’ll leave you with a gorgeous sunset…taken from our bedroom balcony. I promise I have done NOTHING to the color levels of this photo!



  1. I’m so jealous you get to hang your clothes out so much! I’ve been itching to do that here (I have a fantastic line in the backyard), but it’s pollen season! Bet you don’t miss that! 😉

    • Yep, we missed pollen season here. No idea how bad it’ll be next spring, though! And with us keeping the windows open, that could be BAD! Ug…didn’t think about that!

  2. we just installed a dual flush toilet in our main bathroom and i love it! and, bonus, it was cheaper than most of the other toilets at home depot!

    also, i can’t tell you how many times my clothes got rained on when we lived in the mountains and didn’t have a dryer. it was pretty much a daily happening. lol

    • They are awesome, aren’t they? Oh, and my JUST ABOUT got rained on last night! The Doc saved the day with that one!

  3. That is all so interesting!
    That last photo is breathtaking. What a gorgeous shot.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you! I couldn’t believe the colors in that sunset! I just HAD to snap a pic of it!

  4. What a gorgeous sunset!!!

    I love the 2 flush system… we so need that here! I feel bad wasting so much water!

    • I don’t think i’d ever purposefully buy a 1 flush toilet again. The 2-flush ones save SO much water! (and the kids think they are so neat!)

  5. I’ll have to keep my eye out for a dual flush toilet.
    That sunset is amazing!

    • Yes, Shannon, if you ever need to replace your toilet, get a 2-flush one!

      And yes, that sunset…wow! It was just so intense…everything looked like it was glowing!

  6. I love the laundry line! I wish I had one. We did before we moved. NZ looks so interesting. I’ve always wanted to visit.

    • If you ever get the chance, definately come! It is so beautiful…you won’t regret it for a minute!

  7. Hey you girl that is just too cool I’d love to have a “toilet” in my house with everybody I’ve got going b/c we all know that when one has to go so do the others he he he he!

    Show us your kitchen!!! tea time ect!!!

    • Girl, you just need one of those wall-urinals so your boys can just pee on a wall. There was one of those at the airport in Auckland and The Doc said that Zollie ran up to it and stuck his hands in the water like it was a fountain! On second thought, maybe you DON’T need one! HAH!

      • yeah I could just see that happening here or one of the girls would try and sit in it

  8. That is so great to know about these differences. Hubby and I have always talked about him teaching over in Australia or New Zealand. I love the 2 flush toilets, we have one at our local craft store and if I ever own a home, we’ll be getting those. The half sink is a great idea!! My kids would call it a weird sink as well. lol

    • You guys should do it! New Zealand has a pretty bad brain-drain on higher education folks…they can make more money in other countries (namely, Australia and the US) and a lot of them jump ship after university. It probably wouldn’t be hard at all for your hubby to find a job here, and they’d likely pay for your flight and help you find housing to boot! I know we’ve only been here 2 months, but honestly, this is one of the best things we’ve done – both as a couple and just individually. As a couple, and family, really, we are bonding so much. And individually, we are each getting SUCH an education!

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