Top 10 tips for moving from South Africa to New Zealand

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City Church Christchurch

Moving To New Zealand

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Updated: 4 January 2020
By Evan O'Donoghue

Are you considering moving from South Africa to New Zealand?

There’s lots to consider when moving to another country, so we’ve developed the following top 10 tips to help you plan and make the transition.

List of tips.

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1. Visit the Immigration New Zealand website.

Whether you’re just starting out, or need a great ongoing reference point, make the Immigration New Zealand website your number one online resource.

It’s up-to-date, information-rich and full of helpful advice direct from the government.

From choosing the right visa, to applying online, fees, employment demands, study options and more, the site has it all.

Visit Immigration New Zealand's New Zealand Now for additional information, or How To Move To New Zealand for comparable tips and advice from a couple who immigrated from the UK.

2. Find employment.

Careers NZ is a government run website, that includes loads of tools and career advice for job seekers.

In it, you'll find the most up-to-date and comprehensive list of job vacancy and recruitment websites, including a section for migrant workers.

Of these, Seek and TradeMe Jobs are the most popular and widely used.

Please be aware, Immigration New Zealand has instructed local employers to, "...first offer the role to a New Zealand citizen or resident who can do the job or be readily trained to do it."

Exceptions apply, though you may find some employers are more open and equipped to hiring immigrants than others.

3. Places to stay.

Whether you're looking to flatª, rent or purchase a home, TradeMe Property is a great place to start your search.

Staying at a backpackers is a great temporary option for those on a budget, or you can try Airbnb.

If you have kids, you'll need to be conscious of school enrolment zones, which can restrict study options based on where you live. Please see point 10 for additional school information.

4. Bring your documents with you.

Here is a list of common documents you should bring (where applicable) from South Africa for regulatory, employment, study, health and utility service purposes in New Zealand.

  • Passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Academic qualifications
  • Police clearance certificate
  • References (employment, credit, tenancy, etc.)
  • Résumé/CV (curriculum vitae)
  • International driver's licence
  • Medical certificates
  • Dental records
  • Vaccination certificates

Document certification requirements vary between government agencies and private enterprises, based on application criteria.

Typically an original or certified copy (in English) is best, but check with Immigration New Zealand to make sure you are fulfilling their requirements from the outset.

5. Get a tax number & bank account as soon as you arrive.

It's a good idea to get a tax number (IRD number) and bank account as soon as you arrive in New Zealand.

You can apply for an IRD number online or at a local branch.

Popular banks in New Zealand include:

  • ASB
  • ANZ
  • Bank of New Zealand (BNZ)
  • Co-operative Bank, The
  • Kiwibank
  • SBS Bank
  • TSB
  • Westpac

Interest rates, account and transaction fees can vary significantly, so it pays to shop around.

6. Transporting your personal belongings.

Transporting your personal belongings from South Africa to New Zealand can be an expensive and difficult experience.

There are a myriad of industry and regulatory obligations to navigate, which are best handled by a reputable freight forwarder or removalist in South Africa.

You might be tempted to take additional luggage on your flight to New Zealand, but remember, excess baggage fees can be exorbitant. Check with your airline for the latest prices and restrictions.

Sea freight is generally the cheapest international transport option, which is commonly charged at a minimum of one cubic metre, or one tonne (whichever is greater). For this reason, you might be better off using a courier for small parcels and packages.

7. Connect with the South African community in New Zealand.

There are a growing number of Facebook groups and pages for South African expats living in New Zealand. It’s a great place to connect with the local community and get involved.

Popular Facebook groups:

South African food stores are another great option. Not only can you get some delicious home cuisine, most store owners are well connected and active in the community.

Check out South African NZ live radio. You can listen online and read their blog for the latest news and events.

8. Join a church.

Often overlooked, church is a great place to meet and connect with new people of all ages and stages of life.

Even if you're not a Sunday regular, it's a place you can find genuine encouragement and practical support.

Check out City Church if you're thinking of moving to Christchurch. It has a growing South African community and an international outreach ministry for foreign visitors and immigrants.

See the ACTS Churches network for alternative church locations throughout New Zealand.

9. Understand the cost of living.

As a remote island nation, the cost of living in New Zealand is comparatively more expensive than South Africa (as a whole).

Some products and services are subject to seasonal premiums, particularly through winter, based on supply and demand (i.e. vegetables, electricity, etc.).

Use New Zealand Now’s cost of living calculator for a breakdown of income and expenses by city, industry and home life needs.

10. Find the right school for your kids.

The Ministry of Education provides detailed information about the New Zealand education system.

Key topics to research:

There are a range of good Christian schools available throughout New Zealand.

Once you’ve isolated a school of interest, you can research specific academic performance results and enrolment zones.

a. "Flat" - Australiasian slang for living with others in a shared appartment or house (seperate bedrooms).