This article reports on patterns in the production and perception of New Zealand English r-sandhi. We report on two phoneme-monitoring experiments that examine whether listeners from three regions are sensitive to the distribution of r-presence in linking and intrusive environments. The results provide evidence that sound perception is affected by a listener’s experience-driven expectations: greater prior experience with a sound in a given context increases the likelihood of perceiving the sound in that context, regardless of whether the sound is present in the stimulus. For listeners with extremely limited prior exposure to a variant, the variant is especially salient and we also observe an experiment-internal effect of experience. We argue that our results support models that incorporate both word-specific and abstract probabilistic representations.