New Zealand is a country free of major health concerns for the traveller, with health care provision of a high international standard. There are no dangerous wild animals, snakes, insects or arachnids, except for a rare venomous spider which hasn’t caused any fatalities for over 100 years.
New Zealand has a public health system for those who are eligible and a universal accident insurance scheme (ACC) that covers treatment costs for accidental injuries. ACC is a no-fault scheme which includes everyone in New Zealand, including visitors.
Who is eligible to access the New Zealand health system?
For eligibility to publicly funded health or disability services, whether free or subsidised, someone on a work visa would need to have a visa for at least two years or if the time already spent in New Zealand plus a new visa entitlement takes them to two years or beyond. Individuals would need to meet certain clinical and other assessment criteria to receive many services.
If there’s a medical emergency needing urgent attention you can call for an ambulance. In New Zealand the number to dial is 111.
In the Wellington region, Wellington Free ambulance services are available at no charge. In other areas there is a charge to use the ambulance, even if you don’t call it.
Should you obtain health insurance?
Whether or not there is an entitlement to health care or ACC, comprehensive travel insurance is strongly recommended to cover medical costs over and above the publicly funded services, and repatriation expenses and/or claims not accepted by ACC.
What health issues should you be aware of?
There are no specific vaccinations required to enter New Zealand. However, it is advisable to be up to date on measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.
Tap water is safe to drink in all towns and cities; some, but not all, supplies are chlorinated.
It is worth noting that New Zealand has relatively high UV levels, and one of the highest melanoma rates in the world. Prudent protection from the sun’s rays is therefore advisable.
What about health requirements for visas?
Travellers spending less than three months in New Zealand generally do not need to obtain medicals or x-rays to enter the country. For travellers spending three months or more there is the potential for either x-rays or x-rays and medicals to be submitted with an application. Where required, x-rays and medicals need to have been taken by a panel physician, approved by Immigration New Zealand and they are only valid for three months from the date of appointment.
Where can you find out more?
Overview of New Zealand health care:
Immigration New Zealand information on health requirements for visas:
Health information for travellers to New Zealand – healthy travel packing list: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/new-zealand/traveler/packing-list
Information about New Zealand’s UV risks and related support:
Free catalogue of New Zealand health resources: