Shopping in New Zealand
Shopping in New Zealand can be quite a happy affair as most items are imported so the stores need to sell their container loads before the next shipment arrives, which means you get huge “selling at cost” specials every few weeks. Shopping centers are generally like the old towns we were used to in South Africa, with more and more malls going up all the time. The malls around Auckland compare well with those around Johannesburg, they are however not as larger as East Gate, more comparable to the East Rand Mall. The biggest service and consumer industries are all dominated by larger franchised groups like McDonalds, Burger King and KFC. There are also many Kiwi franchised brands.
Service in New Zealand
Service is generally fast, friendly and efficient, though you will still get the odd person that makes you feel like they are doing you a favour serving you.
Two major differences in New Zealand is throwing in petrol and tipping. Very few petrol stations have concierges that throw in the petrol for you, so you have to climb out and do it yourself. Even if a concierge is available to help you, you still need to go inside to pay yourself.
Tipping is not generally done, or expected, in New Zealand, but you are of course welcome to tip your waiter/waitress if have you have received exceptional service. Usually you will get up and proceed to the till at the exit of the restaurant to pay when you have finish your meal and are ready to leave.
Many restaurants will also let your bring your own bottle of wine. This is advertised as BYO (Bring Your Own) and can save you quite a bit of money. The restaurant may however still charge you a corkage fee (usually around $5) to open the bottle. There are a few restaurants that will allow you to bring your own beer (6 pack max) as well, but you will not be able to rock up with a bottle of Klippies and a 2 litre Coke under your arm unfortunately, lol.
There are no Hypermarkets here, most are the size of a regular Family Pick ‘n Pay. The range in the supermarkets is as good as you would find in South Africa. In fact I would say that certain specialist items, like gluten free products are much better stocked here that in South Africa. Another treat is the bread department. Kiwis love their bread so the first time you walk into a Pak & Save you are absolutely blown away at the staggering choice of breads available. What is however very scarce is hot bread. Most supermarkets let the bread cool so they can slice it before stocking them on the shelves.
Another oddity is the size of soft drinks. They are available as 1.5 litre or 2.25 litre bottles. The Buddy size bottles and cans are also available, but they are almost as expensive as a large bottle. Recently the 2 liter bottle was introduced here, but it does seem to be very popular yet.
Banking in New Zealand
Banking in New Zealand is comparable to that of South Africa with 5 or 6 major banks well represented throughout the country. Most people use debit cards as opposed to cash as most shops accept them and the bank charges involved is pretty low. ATM’s can be found almost anywhere you would need them.
Driving in New Zealand
Driving in New Zealand is also on the left hand side of the road and it isn’t much different to driving in South Africa. There are a few signs and rules that are different, most notably the left turn rule which takes some getting used to. The roads are well maintained with maintenance work mostly being done at night when the least amount of disruption to the traffic will occur.
Earning a living in New Zealand is no different to South Africa, but the Kiwis don’t always accomplish the same goals in the same way we did, they have their own Kiwi ways that work for them. The businesses in New Zealand are also smaller than in South Africa, so your chance of working for a huge 1000+ employee company is pretty slim. You will more likely be working for a company with 10 to 30 employees.
Starting a business in New Zealand is considered to be one of the easiest things to do by western standards. The competition is however just as tough as you were used to in South Africa because there is a smaller pool of customers to draw from. Many ex-South Africans run very successful businesses here.