Destination New Zealand – A Saffa’s Immigration tale

Destination New Zealand – A Saffa’s Immigration tale

Back in July 2015, my wife and I realised that there was no future for young South Africans in RSA. Seeking a better life, we set our sights on our potential new home – Destination ‘Middle Earth’ (Yes! We are big LOTR fans).

Why New Zealand?

First and foremost, we wanted to feel safe and secure. Other reasons included the job opportunities for skilled people, scenery, the sports fanatics (I’m a huge sports fan), the fly-fishing, the coffee and the distinct lack of Australians. We wanted to have a better quality of life and hopefully provide that for our children one day. One things for sure, our pug dogs absolutely love their new lives here.


After having done all the research, attending seminars and utilising my amazing Google skills, we eventually got the ball rolling through an Immigration Advisor based in Auckland; and as it turned out, she too was a former ‘Saffa’.

Immigration process

Immigration is not for sissies: there is a mountain of paperwork to fill out, loads of red tape to negotiate and a couple banks to rob in order to finance it. Once we had ironed out all the details with our immigration advisor re visa requirements and conditions I set off job hunting. Thanks to my eternal optimism, communication skills, coupled with my amazing googling skills (once again), I managed to secure an interview via a wonderful recruitment company based in Dunedin ‘Crew Consulting’. I think you all may recognise the company who chose to interview me – Zephyr Consulting. Having managed to secure a job prior to leaving RSA certainly made all the difference.

It was as if a great weight had been lifted. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled as big as I did whilst handing in a resignation letter. By January 2016, my feet were firmly planted on New Zealand soil. New Zealand has been tightening the reins on immigration procedures and requirements for some time. The process was very stressful but as is the nature of pretty much every government based department in New Zealand, the systems just work. In South Africa it is a nightmare trying to deal with any government based department; the systems there do work…kind of but only if you’re prepared to stand in queues for hours and hours and have packed some sustenance, a spare portable charger for your mobile device and about 30 Rands worth of 5 Rand coins to keep the car guards happy. Overall the work visa process was fairly painless, the stressful part was getting everything prepared and submitted for our Residency application. After eventually submitting what amounted to 65 pages of material, by November 2016, we had secured our NZ Residency. Huge celebrations followed. We had done it. The next grand celebration will be when we are eventually granted citizenship. Putting the Green Mamba’s (South African Passport) out to pasture and embracing the Black and Silver will certainly be a fantastic day.

Being a Kiwi

There are really a ton of positives that New Zealand has going for it. To me the people are fantastic, all the important systems work, the public transport is amazing, the country is so picturesque you don’t even have to go overseas to escape. You are surrounded by nature and virtually a hop, skip and a jump away from some spectacular landscapes in pretty much any direction. The air quality is so good they’re literally bottling it and selling it to China. The coffee and food culture is stupendous and we’re still working our way through all the wine and craft beers. As far as negatives go, the only pain I’ve had to endure is the traffic on some really tiny roads around the North Island…

NZ Working Culture

As for the difference in work cultures, I’ve been sold a lot of “We really look after our people” in the past and in South Africa I think that’s more of a slogan than anything else. My own experiences and those of close friends and acquaintances I have met in New Zealand, I can certainly say that Kiwi businesses lead the pack when it comes to looking after their staff. I’ve worked for some amazing companies over the years in RSA but it just felt as if there was always something lacking. Perhaps it was working for large corporate enterprises where you are just another cog in the system, who knows? We’re just incredibly lucky we ended up where we did. Everything happens for a reason. We have been blown away by the sheer beauty of New Zealand and it’s incredibly welcoming and friendly people. Having chosen to settle in Wellington “The Coolest little Capital In The World!” has been the best decision we could have ever made. ‘Aroha nui’

Some Tips

Rule 1 – There are no shortcuts. You need to be prepared. Go through the NZ Immigration site details re Visa requirements with a fine-tooth comb. If you’re unsure, speak to an immigration advisor. Having all the correct documentation is paramount as there are strict timelines to submit the necessary info during the process. Rule 2 – Ensure you are applying for the correct visa. This can have further implications down the road should you wish to extend your work visa or if you opt to travel, apply for residency etc. Rule 3 – If you have quality furniture and/or appliances, ship them over. Quality appliances, leather furniture and beds are expensive in NZ Rule 4 – Be travel smart. There are tons of current apps and blogs | websites where you gain tons of useful information on where to go, what to see, what you need etc. Rule 5 – Explore! Explore! Explore! Don’t be afraid, if you love the outdoors, you’ve come to the right place. Take every opportunity to go out explore the vast array of walks, hikes, bike trails, and the coastlines NZ has to offer. Rule 6 – Parking in the major cities is expensive. Best way to familiarise yourself with your new home is to strap on your walking shoes and do a bit of urban touring. You’ll quickly discover all the hidden parking arcades, outdoor car parks etc where you won’t pay an arm and a leg for. Or in wellington just use the incredible public transport systems.

The Costs

Total approx. cost to immigrate from RSA = R250, 000.00 (ZAR). At the time this was approx. $25, 000.00 NZ (Costs included) – • Marriage and un-abridged birth certificates • Police Clearance certificates • Medical tests – ‘e-Medicals’ • Updating | Clearing financial details (Insurance | Life cover | Retirement Annuities | SARS | Banking) • Renewing passports • Air Tickets • Furniture shipping • Pugs entire process (Blood work, inoculations, treatments, inspections, crates, air tickets, Quarantine etc.) • NZ Immigration Advisor costs • NZ Work Visa • NZ Residency costs • Documentation courier costs (Local as well as International) • Set up costs once in NZ – Securing property rental (Bond + Rent) | Vehicle | Transport costs etc.

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Posted on: September 10, 2017Brett Snyman