Kiwi cinema etiquette under fire as Redditor asks if it's 'normal' to be barefoot, rest feet on seats

New Zealand cinema-going etiquette is being fiercely debated online after a visitor from Scotland asked if it is "normal NZ behaviour" to put one's bare feet on someone else's seat.

Posting to Reddit, user u/Acceptable-Bid-1019 revealed they were stunned by seeing a couple at the movies with their feet on the seats in front of them.

"I'm over from Scotland and this is my first cinema experience. A couple had their feet up on the head rest on the chairs in front throughout the duration of the movie," they wrote.

"It was odd seeing people walking around a city barefoot but I respect it; it's comfy, let the dogs out y'know. I'm sure it's good for the auld foot form and health. 

"But this seemed mad to me. The next poor soul to sit in the seat in front is going to have the remnants of these twos pong wafting about their heads for 120 minutes of run time. If this was Glasgow someone would have hurled a bottle of coke/ stolen iPhone at the back of his head before his foot had left his shoe.

"Is this just a cultural difference?" 

The post, which includes a picture of the offending feet on seats, sparked a wave of condemnation in the comments.

"Welcome. No it is not normal. It is poor behaviour," one said.

"Bare feet on a headrest in a public place? No," another said.

Another was more forthright in their condemnation, saying: "Nah it's not normal. Same kind of entitled dickheads who do this stuff on public transport etc. There is a small group of Kiwis who treat public space like they're at home. Super weird."

However, some commented on the photo, saying it didn't look like the person had had their feet on their seats, but conceded going barefoot to the movies was "still a bit gross".

"It looks to me like he's got his foot resting on his opposite knee, which is a lot better than on the actual seat backs. But it's still a bit gross," they said.

"His leg is on his knee not the chair in front, it's 100 percent acceptable and normal behaviour," another argued.

"I'd say he was wearing jandals and jandals will fall off feet if you put your foot on your knee," another argued.

"If I'm wearing sandals at the movies I'll usually take them off. I won't, however, put them on the headrest in front of me," another wrote.

As the discussion continued, it developed into a wider issue of why New Zealanders choose to go barefoot in public.

"The soles of the average Kiwi's feet are so tough they can deflect bullets and walk across lava," one joked.

The issue of cinema-going etiquette is something that's plagued many cinephiles during recent years, with cinemas enforcing rules for moviegoers to comply with.

On the Hoyts website, terms and conditions for visiting movie theatres in New Zealand states "Neat, casual dress, including footwear, is the minimum standard required at all times".

In April 2018, Hawera Cinema 2 was forced to implement a new dress code after an "increasing trend of people" were getting too comfortable in its cinemas.

It posted on its social media at the time that management would "no longer be welcoming customers who wear pajamas, onesies, dressing gowns or dirty gumboots - no matter how cute they are! It's simple, really - as long as you are appropriately dressed and are wearing clean footwear, you are good to go."

"It is not the vibe or environment we want to encourage here at Hawera Cinemas."

There are several online guides about how to behave in cinemas, ranging from no talking during movies to ensuring mobile phones are turned off.