Shoes are optional in New Zealand. That might seem like a strange statement but it’s true. While you may not think that seeing children running around the park or beach barefoot is anything unusual, seeing adults padding around the Pak N Save sans chausseurs can be quite the culture shock.
Although the laidback nature of kiwis probably has something to do with it, the naked foot custom also comes from Maori culture, where going barefoot means you are connected with nature. Like in Japan, you are also required to take off your shoes indoors, especially in a wharenui (meeting house). As well as parks and beaches, you’ll see people with bare feet in the street, in public libraries, in dairies and in shopping malls. Some children even go to school in bare feet, I kid you not.
Not everyone in New Zealand approves of this custom but the vast majority of people won’t bat an eyelid if you choose to air your tootsies in either an indoor or outdoor public space.
My soles of my feet are pretty tough thanks to years of karate on hard wooden floors but you won’t catch me strolling down the road with my trotters on display. No way.
It’ll be covered sandals for my puffy plates of meat.