0614 Burnett 0434

Sniffies: The latest cruising site you've probably never heard of

0614 Burnett 0434

Sniffies: The latest cruising site you've probably never heard of

The world of online dating in Aotearoa has come a long way since the days of NZ Dating (which, amazingly, still exists???) We’ve now moved from a society where saying you met online was frowned upon, to a society where it’s weird to find a couple who actually met ‘the old-fashioned way’. Online dating options, both websites and apps, have exploded – though I use the word ‘dating’ loosely.

Some of these are mostly for straights, of course, with Grindr, Scruff, Jack’d and Squirt being the biggest queer-specific options. And now, of course, we also have Sniffies. But if you’ve never even heard of Sniffies, it’s ok, I get it. I only heard about it relatively recently myself.



About Sniffies Profile options Navigating the site User experience Staying safe Should I pay for Sniffies? Pros and cons Our recommendation

About Sniffies

Sniffies was founded in 2018, initially as a website used for trading used underwear – however, they quickly did an about-turn and launched it as a cruising website instead, and they figured the name still worked.


Sniffies is web-based, not app-based.

That’s right, you read that correctly. Sniffies is web-based, not app-based. This is in large part to get around app store regulations, so profile images on Sniffies can be fully explicit – in fact, from my experience, visible profile pictures are almost exclusively dicks or ass, so be warned if you’re opening it on the bus (though there is a ‘vanilla’ viewing option – more on that later).

The other major difference between Sniffies and other options is that it’s map-based. This is in large part because Sniffies’ unique point of difference is that it’s heavily skewed towards cruising. You can meet guys at their home, but that’s not really what it was set up for. Sniffies takes us back to the good old days, both with its cruising focus but also with a dash of the much beloved Craigslist via public forums. If you want to add to your platform repertoire, then Sniffies may well be what you’ve been looking for.

I tried out the platform for myself to give you the complete run down on how it works.


Profile options


When using Sniffies, you can either:

Cruise anonymously: Free, no personal details required, and it’s deleted as soon as you log out. Just enter your date of birth and start cruising (if over 18).

Cruise with a free account: Free, more personal details required for your profile, including email verification, and the profile can be used over and over again.

Cruise with a Sniffies Plus membership: Paid, gives you more options and access, including the ability to register public places in your area as official cruising spots on Sniffies and to arrange group hook-ups.

  • 1 week trial: $11.99
  • 1 month: $23.99 p/m
  • 3 months: $17.99 p/m
  •  6 months: $14.99 p/m

Pro tip: When you first visit the website, there is no initial ‘create an account’ option – you need to click ‘log in’ to get the sign up option, which is a little unintuitive.

Navigating the site

Once you’ve selected how you’d like to cruise, you get taken to a map of your surrounding area. The map is quite interactive and get a bit chaotic, and contains a number of features:

What to know when sniffing around...

1. Map filters


The map can appear quite busy, so you have the option to only show the following:

  • Cruisers: Only shows profiles. This can be further segmented for registered accounts to specify things like people who are currently online, are hosting at specific types of places (i.e. a gloryhole) or people who you have recorded chat history with.
  • Places: Only shows popular cruising spots. This can be further segmented for registered accounts to specify things like location type (i.e. bathhouse), popularity (based on historic number of users at the location), and whether or not it’s currently active.
  • Groups: Only shows groups that have been set up by users.

2. Resources


The Sniffies logo at the top of the page has a variety of options in the drop-down, including:

  • Online safety tips
  • A fetish wiki
  • Hush (a culture and lifestyle resource focused on sex, love, hookups, and holistic sexual health for men into men)
  • Resources on topics such as sex ed, mental wellbeing, and mpox.

3. Settings


Here, you can do things like view and edit your profile (even anonymous profiles), view and edit your account, access vanilla mode (blocks explicit content), and turn on the location randomizer.

One key difference between Sniffies and other apps is that users have a lot of profile options to choose from, including sexual position preference, expression (i.e. tribe), fetishes, clothing you find sexy, what you’re into, how you prefer to interact, and your HIV and STI prevention method(s) of choice. You can often select multiple options, which means you can be very specific about what you’re after.

One important thing to note – unlike other options, there is no ethnicity listing on Sniffies.

4. Chats


Recent chats, including:

  • Pinned chats (only for paid users)
  • Location chats (you need to be registered, but not necessarily paying)
  • Groups – only paying users can add groups though if you’ve been added to a group by someone else you can see group chats here

Chats are deleted after 2 months unless you keep the chat going, or if they’re pinned.

5. Cruising updates


This is a public message board, where any paid cruiser can give a cruising update i.e. ‘I’m cruising now, doors unlocked’ – you would then shift the conversation to private chats to provide more info, for safety reasons. Non-paying users can still view cruising updates.

6. Map viewing options


You have the option to:

  • Enable travel mode: This allows you to choose a place to browse in, but it will only load for paid users
  • Hide me – this is clickable but you can’t actually use the map unless you’re a paid member
  • Find me – centers your profile (this is very useful!)
  • Toggle full-screen

Map icons:

I saw someone online describe the various icons used on Sniffies as a kind of hanky-code and tbh they’re not wrong. Here’s a simple guide:

WTF is 'hanky code'?

This was a system of colour-coded handkerchiefs or bandanas for non-verbally communicating one’s interests in sexual activities and fetishes, which was most popular in times when it was less common to be ‘out’.

Find out more

User experience

When you first log in, there is a moment of tense anticipation. First, you need to wait for your browser to share location data (sometimes you need to refresh if it gets stuck here). Then, you need to wait for the content to load.

Suddenly, without warning, the map literally bursts onto your screen, with you at the centre and all the other cruisers around you. A word of warning: You can only select vanilla mode (which hides all explicit profile images) after the map has loaded, so if you’re in public and haven’t already chosen this setting, hover your finger over the settings icon so you can click it as soon as you’re able.

The map can zoom in and out, but the profile icons stay the same size until you’ve zoomed out enough that it can clump them in groupings. This makes the map hard to navigate at first, as you can get what seems like a lot of profiles on the screen. As a user, I often wondered if there are actually as many users as the map suggests – though the volume can vary greatly. Sometimes there’s a ton, sometimes it’s quite sparse. Guess we gotta trust that the tech isn’t glitching.

Besides the number of profiles, the first thing I notice is that there are a lot of profiles without any profile image – if you haven’t loaded one, Sniffies will assign you one of about 6 animated torsos at random (only one of which displays even a modicum of body diversity – points off for that). Sniffies is definitely different from other apps in that a large percentage of users are ‘discreet’, and you don’t get a lot of the old ‘no profile pic no reply’ that you get on Grindr; here, it’s par for the course.


Sniffies is definitely different from other apps in that a large percentage of users are ‘discreet’.

There’s also not a lot of chit chat – this is probably because, despite Sniffies announcing that they have now enabled notifications on both IoS and Android via a clunky roundabout process (no app means no automatic push notifications), there are widespread reports that these don’t work. I actually couldn’t even figure out how to turn them on, but hopefully others have more luck!

Also, another interesting product of the lack of faces is that it really makes you question how important this actually is. Say you’re chatting to someone, you like their body, they’ve got a nice dick (or hole, or both), you’re compatible, you seem to have good chemistry over chat… do you need to be attracted to their face as well? Maybe. Maybe not. But I think it’s good to challenge yourself here.


Staying safe

Cruising has inherent risks. On Sniffies, there is an element of location randomization (so it doesn’t show exactly where you are), and you can toggle the sensitivity of this tool. However, I did find that it’s still easy to know when there is a group of people cruising together in a certain location (i.e. a park). For legitimate users, this can be helpful – but it also raises safety concerns. Not everyone using queer aps have good intentions, so make sure you know what to do to better ensure your physical safety.

Sniffies does take some measures to keep people safe while using the app. For example, there is a resource centre with info on how to stay safe while cruising, and users who share contact information such as phone numbers will automatically have the following notification added to the chat:

Of course, staying safe also includes sexual health, so make sure you know what HIV and STI prevention methods are available to you (condoms, PrEP and testing) and what your preference is.


Staying safe on Sniffies

Your Guide to Cruising 7 tips for staying safe in a hookup PrEP PEP Been Exposed? Get Free Condoms Get a Test

Should I pay for Sniffies?

Well… it really depends on what you want out of it. There are a ton of features that are only accessible for paid members, but I’ve included the most useful and/or sought after below:

  • Check into specific places on the map without revealing your profile, for added privacy and security
  • Create groups of cruisers, and invite members
  • Override your GPS location to browse other locations (i.e. ‘travel mode’)
  • Browse without showing up on the map (i.e. ‘discreet mode’)
  • Get marked as a verified member – Sniffies reckons this provides more credibility and increases your chances of hooking up, but of course they’d say that…
  • Upload multiple profile photos
  • See archived chats - messages are automatically deleted after 2 months unless engaged with, so this means you can see who you missed if offline for an extended period
  • Pin chats so they appear at the top of your chat list and will never expire
  • Enable read-receipts
  • Live video chat (i.e. ‘LivePlay’)
  • Post cruising updates in the global chat area

Personally, I didn’t feel a need to sign up for a paid membership, but I imagine for people who want to use the site more regularly, the ability to do things like create groups and add places would be useful.


Pros and cons


  • The map makes it easy to identify cruising spots to visit
  • No annoying pop-up ads
  • Being web-based means it’s potentially more accessible for people without smart phones, as most phones nowadays at least have internet access
  • Great for people who are ‘looking now’ and aren’t too picky and/or just need to get off now
  • Great if anonymous fuck-and-go type situations are your thing
  • Great if you want to be a cum dump and advertise yourself to lots of people to come and drop their load
  • Great way of arranging group sex with various levels of anonymity (if you’re paying)
  • No pressure to show your face/identity if you don’t want to


  • Notifications are apparently enabled but it doesn’t seem to work well…
  • Lack of notifications can make conversations drag on where you get stuck in an endless ‘hi how are you’ cycle
  • The map can be chaotic to navigate
  • The map can be risky to access in public
  • Safety concerns when cruising in public
  • Not great if you’re wanting to have a good chat with someone to check the vibe before a hook up
  • Not great if you want to share lots of pics and videos and really verify who you’ll be fucking
  • Sometimes there aren’t a lot of users online

Interestingly, while there are a lot of options to define yourself and what you’re into, there is no option to add your ethnicity. This could either be a pro or a con, depending on your personal preferences. On the one hand, it eliminates the ability for people to easily filter out people based on race. However, it also deprives people the ability to hook up with guys who they may feel more comfortable with (i.e. Māori and Pasifika guys looking to hook up with other brown boys).


Our final say

Based on our extensive research, here’s how we ranked Sniffies in the following categories:


Ease of use

Point of difference

Likelihood to hook up


Filtering and specificity


So would I recommend Sniffies?

Listen, I’ll admit – I was skeptical at first. But Sniffies actually surprised me! In fact, I hooked up with someone within an hour of creating an account to try it out as research for this blog (lol), and there have been lots of other potential opportunities.

Personally, I like to have a bit more chat and lead up to sexual encounters, so I don’t think it’ll be a mainstay for me – but if I was more into the anon, cruisy vibe, I reckon it’s a good option!

Ultimately, this sort of platform improves with a larger volume of users. If you tried Sniffies today, you may feel like there aren’t enough guys on there, but all it takes is more people to use it more frequently - so go on; log in and be a founding member of the Sniffies movement across Aotearoa for all our benefit!


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