What are thongs called in New Zealand? (and what you’ll get if you ask for a pair)

Many things are known with different names in different countries due to differences in their slang. For instance, what is known as thongs in Australia becomes Flip-Flops or jandals in New Zealand as for them thongs are underwear. The information provided in this write-up will help you to know what are thongs called in New Zealand.

In New Zealand, thongs (the footwear) are called Jandals from a local patent or Flip-Flops as in the UK. Whereas New Zealanders use the word “thong” for a certain type of minimalistic underwear. So if you in New Zealand ask for “a thong” they will give you underwear, not shoes. So, in New Zealand, the string does not go between your toes, but in between the rounded part of your lower back, so to speak.


What is the name of thongs in New Zealand?

Footwear that is normally used by Australians while relaxing on beaches or poolside is known as thong. But thongs are known by different names in different countries like in New Zealand they are known as flip-flops or jandals whereas in South Africa they are known as Places. In the United States, they are usually known as flip-flops but in certain areas, they are known by different names like in Texas they are Clam Diggers, in Hawaii, they are Slippers, and on the East Coast Zori.

In this write-up, I am going to discuss in brief why these things are known as Jandals or Flip-Flops in New Zealand.

Thongs worn on feet


Why Thongs are called Jandals in New Zealand?

Most of the new Zealanders use the term Jandals while talking about thongs or footwear normally used casually while relaxing. But most of them may not know the history of the invention of this word.

The word Jandal was invented by John Cowie as a short form of Japanese Sandal, and later patented in 1957 by Maurice Yock as The Kiwi Jandal.

Some people are of the view that the word Jandals was invented by John Cowie whereas for some Maurice Yock and his son Anthony had invented it.

Actually, in 1957, a design was patented by Maurice Yock under the name of Kiwi Jandal. But it has been claimed by Mary Deken, a woman from Taranaki, that this word was initially invented by John Cowie, her father, which was later on used by Maurice Yock. So Maurice has not invented this word but has just imported it from her father. According to her, her father has derived the word Jandal as a short form of Japanese Sandal.

According to etymology, the words Japanese and Sandal are blended to create the word Jandal which was patented as trademark Jandal by Morris Yock. The reason behind patenting this name was that the footwear Morris saw in Japan during his last visit.

In 1957, Morris and his son Anthony started manufacturing Jandals made of rubber from their garage under the name Jandals Ltd. They imported the rubber used in Jandals from Hong Kong. Their business was later on taken over by Skellerup in 1987. Skellerup was started by a Dane like me by the way, and the name Skellerup is from a small town here end Denmark – Yey, go Denmark!

In the 1980s and 1990s, the brand Janals was under threat due to the introduction of several imported and cheap imitations of this brand in the market. The owners of Jandal took legal action to protect their brand.

In this way, Jandals are used by most Kiwis for a long. I saw these rubber sandals on my feet since I started to know this world. I like to carry one or two pairs of jandals whenever I visit beaches in New Zealand. Jandals are also known among Kiwis as Samoan safety boots as jandals are also worn largely by Samoan people wherever they go. They sometimes wear jandals at work.

The jandals of New Zealand are known as Flip-Flops in the US and UK. The word Flip-Flop was likely derived from the noise they make while walking. However, in some areas, New Zealanders also call Jandals Flip-Flops.

Meme: Samoan Safty Boots


Why thongs are called flip-flops in New Zealand?

All over the world, people from all age groups, children, youngsters, and adults, usually like to wear simple shoes while at pools and on beaches. They usually wear shoes containing a thin sole of rubber with a y-shape strap from between the first and second toe and going across the top of the foot. These shoes are known as flip-flops.

Here I am going to discuss why new Zealanders call them flip-flop even if they wear a pair for some time only. According to onomatopoeia, they are known as flip-flops because of the flip-flop sound made by their rubber soles when they strike against the sole of your feet while walking with them (fun fact: Here in Denmark, where I’m from, they are called Klip-klap’ere. The sound is apparently different here – not that I’ve checked though). The names of things that have come from the sounds made by them are known as onomatopoeia words like buzz, moo, zip, beep, and quack, etc.


Worn since 4000 BC

thongs 4000 bc

According to some experts, in America, the name flip-flops was originated long back in the 1950s whereas for some since 6,000 years flip-flops were in use. In murals on ancient temples and tombs of Egypt, you can see flip-flops worn since nearly 4,000 BC.

The Japanese shoes that look like flip-flops are also known as Zori which was traditionally worn by children in Japan while learning to walk. It is believed that after WWII flip-flops were introduced for the first time in America when Zori was brought as souvenirs by the soldiers returning from Japan. Flip-flops gained more popularity in America in the 1950s when American soldiers returned from the war in Korea.

Though flip-flops were initially used as popular summer shoes while spending time near water bodies as well as by surfers but today they are commonly used with blue jeans and as tennis shoes. Today you can find a wide range of flip-flops in different styles on the shoe stores in the malls to wear on the beaches or at the poolside.

Although many people find flip-flops very comfortable but most doctors do not advise you to wear them for a long time as well as more frequently because they do not support your ankle. Moreover, they do not provide support to most of your foot which can cause various types of problems related to your feet like tendonitis and overpronation.


What is a thong?

In the English language, a thong can be defined as a long thin strip of leather or any other material that can be used to attach something. In some countries like New Zealand etc a thing is also considered as a kind of g-string type underpants used by swimmer women that contains only a narrow strip connected to the waistband in the back and passes between the buttocks.