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Mt Hutt New Zealand

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British migrants Janice and Peter Bass don't do things by halves. After a two-week, fact-finding trip to Canterbury they bought 10 blocks of land so the rest of their family could follow them.

"We felt like we'd come home when we first came to New Zealand," said Janice, 49. "My husband cried on the plane when we went home from that first trip."

The pair are among growing numbers of Brits drawn to New Zealand, the unspoilt beauty of the South Island, in particular.

Fed up with four hours of daily commuting across London, they're enjoying life at the purpose-built Pegasus township, about 25km north of Christchurch. They are building a house on each of their sections. Janice wouldn't say exactly how much it would cost but confirmed $8 million was close.

She said it was worth it to convince their family to swap their grey, wet British existence for a life of skiing, water sports and "friendly Kiwis".

It's easy to see the attraction of Pegasus. Built around a lake near the pristine coastline of Pegasus Bay, the community will be home to about 5000 residents, a golf course, resort, retirement village and shops.

The town's website says it has been designed to be a "vibrant, sustainable community with opportunities for work, education and leisure".

House and land packages start at $467,000 or £186,000 - considerably cheaper than many one-bedroom flats in central London.

Janice said the deal was sealed for her outdoorsy family when they skied at Mt Hutt and visited New Brighton beach on the same day.

The midwife and her IT specialist husband settled in Christchurch in January 2004 with their two daughters and son. They had no problem finding great jobs and schools.

Four years on, Janice's sister and family have followed and her mother, second sister and cousins will move out next year.

They will live in houses the couple built. Others will be kept for their business Dream Catcher, which offers migrant families rental accommodation and resettlement support.

Figures from Britain's Office for National Statistics show more than a quarter of Brits leaving home headed here or to Australia in 2003.

Almost 95,000 Brits have arrived in the past decade.

Real estate agents have profited, with Bayleys selling more than $300m property to British buyers through UK-based marketing.

The developers behind Pegasus are also targeting disaffected Brits with a marketing exhibition at New Zealand House in London next month.

British-born Suzi Bunting travelled New Zealand with her husband and daughter before settling in the "safe" lakeside township of Wanaka, where she works as a real estate agent.