My name is Charlene Apollos and I have lived in Christchurch, New Zealand for almost 10 years now. I am 47 years old, married with 3 children, aged 27, 20 and 16. We emigrated in February 2007 due to my husband been offered a retail management position with Warehouse Stationery. We are very happy here and have settled fairly well into our life here even with its ups and downs. The South Island is particularly beautiful, clean, pristine & almost untouched.
Firstly if you thinking of making the move, you have to be in the right mindset of transition and change. You have to mentally prepare yourself for this not just the obvious things like selling your property, car etc. It has to be a mutual decision you are all comfortable with. If you constantly compare SA to NZ then it will never work for you - if you going to do that truly don't bother coming. Don't get me wrong I love SA & my home but this is my new life now & I don't compare things to SA. I don't bad mouth SA or its issues but I don't make comparison to anything.
Life here is very different but please don't delude yourself into thinking NZ does not have its own issues - in fact they do. But safety is big here. Yes there is crime but you are able to live in relative safety, able to benefit more from the government in terms of your kids tertiary study etc. There are way more opportunity for our kids. Workwise I have found the same. You have to make and rebuild yourself but you have to be wise about it, make decisions to suit yourself and just get on with things. There is no right or wrong. You have to decide for yourself.
As for climate it was a huge adjustment for us coming from Durban as the South Island is very cold but we do have mild to warm and sometimes hot summers. But we are exposed to the Antarctic chill wind so can be icy cold here. Auckland and North Island pretty warm so better SA type weather. Even in terms of a bustling, built up city Auckland is the place to be as the South Island is a bit more laid back but well established. But you still have many quaint little towns.
It is easy to get insurance and is pretty reasonable considering their crime rate is not high. The cost of living has increased but is not as bad as SA & the interest rate is not ridiculous so the dollar you earn goes far. You will find live is more bearable earning the dollar.
Some people choose to bring all their furniture from SA but if you have assets to sell & come with some money it may be more feasible to buy here unless your furniture is custom made & expensive then by all means ship it. But don't waste your time if it is old & not valuable. Stores here have sales all the time so bargains are a plenty. The supermarkets have specials daily/weekly so for everything on your list you will get a brand on special. There is not much difference in food here & you can pretty much eat the way you did in SA. There is an SA shop in most big cities to get that special SA brand but you will not find it too peculiar food wise.
I would move to NZ again but wish I would have done it when I was younger & my kids were smaller though the transition for them has been pretty easy & they are accustomed to their way of life. It is harder for the adults as building up a friendship network can be hard & it can get a bit lonely sometimes.
As for business it is pretty easy to establish a business but it will be hard work to get it up & running.
Frankly it is what you make of it - I have a whole circle of friends other than South Africans. We are now citizens so embrace the Kiwi way of life with our South African hints of lifestyle as well in terms of morals, values, ethics. It is a bit different here in that aspect. I don't start my conversations with, "In SA we ..." People feel if you here you need to not do that & they find it offensive. Don't impose your ways on them & they won't do the same - it is a "life & let live" policy here. What I like most is that people respect your privacy, know boundaries and don't invade your personal space. But sometimes their aloofness can make you feel isolated. So you have to put yourself out there.