Getting ill whilst you’re travelling is no fun and dealing with illness on the road can make even the most cheerful, bouncy traveller turn into a grouch. But thankfully finding a doctor in New Zealand is quite easy.
In this post, I’m going to share with you my experience of seeing a doctor and experiencing the health system, whilst travelling in New Zealand.
I’ll also cover the process of seeing a doctor in New Zealand and how it works when you’re a traveller — plus tips on where to go for medical help.
Finding a Doctor in New Zealand: How to visit an NZ Doctors Clinic
To start, I’ll briefly explain how the New Zealand healthcare system works and how it can help you when you’re visiting or travelling in New Zealand.
How New Zealand’s healthcare system works
New Zealand’s healthcare system is quite different to the completely free NHS system in the UK or the subsidised Medicare system in Australia.
There are no reciprocal health agreements between New Zealand and other countries and there is no free healthcare in New Zealand for travellers or visitors.
This came as a little surprise to me as I come from a country that has a completely free healthcare system in place (the NHS), that all its residents and visitors have access to.
I’ve also travelled and lived in Australia and experienced their Medicare publicly funded healthcare system, which gives access to free or lower-cost healthcare (free if your home country has a reciprocal health agreement).
Publicly funded healthcare is only available to eligible residents and citizens of New Zealand. As a traveller or visitor in New Zealand, you won’t be eligible for publicly funded healthcare, so you’ll always pay top dollar to see a GP or Doctor.
The exceptions to this rule are:
- If you’re a New Zealand Permanent Resident or Citizen.
- If you’re an Australian Permanent Resident or Citizen.
- If you have had an NZ work visa for more than two years or you can show proof of continuous work visas (without gaps) equaling more than two years—otherwise you won’t be classed as eligible.
- You’re a Commonwealth Scholarship student.
- You’re a refugee, an interim visa holder or have protected status.
As a Visitor, Am I Eligible to See a Doctor in New Zealand?
If you’re a visitor or travelling in New Zealand and you get ill or sick (and it’s not an emergency) you should visit an NZ doctor or a medical centre.
However, as a visitor or traveller, you will have to pay a casual patient fee to see a doctor in New Zealand.
This is because you cannot permanently register or enrol with any NZ doctors or medical centres unless you’re eligible. And once again to be eligible, you must either be:
- A New Zealand or Australian resident or citizen
- On a work visa that’s two years or longer
- On a scholarship or on a refugee or protected visa
And assuming you’ve landed on this post because you’re either travelling around or are visiting New Zealand, then you won’t fall into those categories.
So as a traveller, you’ll always be treated as a casual patient and you’ll have to pay ‘casual patient fees’ every time you see a doctor in New Zealand.
And unfortunately, these fees are much higher than what residents would pay.
GPs and medical centres are privately owned in New Zealand, so they are able to set their own fees. So, casual patients pay a much higher fee than enrolled patients.
While living in Matamata in Waikato, I got ill and went to the local medical centre. Although I had proof that I’d held the 23-month Working Holiday Visa, then a 1-year work visa, and then another 1-year work visa after that, I was still denied the lower consultation price.
Because although I’ve held work visas for almost 4 years in total, it wasn’t a continuous work visa of more than two years.
When I got ill with a sinus infection in the small town of Te Aroha, the local doctor’s clinic wouldn’t even see me, because their policy was only to see enrolled patients.
So I had to travel to the next town (Matamata) to get a doctor’s appointment. As I didn’t have a car, I had to get a ride there with someone I lived with who left for work at 5 am in the morning – that was not a happy day!
How Much Does it Cost to See an NZ Doctor?
The majority of travellers who come to New Zealand are usually only on a 1 or 2-year (23-month) NZ Working Holiday Visa, so you won’t be eligible for publicly funded healthcare – as the length of these visas is never over two years.
So you’ll always pay the higher casual rates to see a doctor. And they can be very high, even higher at weekends or out-of-hours.
TIP – Ask for a receipt for any medical treatment or GP consultation fee, so that you can use it to claim your money back with your travel insurance provider.
So, to give you an idea, for a general consultation or appointment with an NZ Doctor, expect to pay around:
- $80 – $95 NZD to see a doctor as a ‘casual patient’ within normal business hours
- $100 – $120 NZD to see a doctor as a ‘casual patient’ out-of-hours or at a walk-in clinic.
Where to find a Doctor in New Zealand – NZ Doctor in your area
Here are some useful links to the main doctor’s clinics and medical centres in the main cities of New Zealand, most of which I’ve used myself. Just go on their websites and look under ‘casual patients’ for the prices you would pay.
Doctors in NZ – Auckland
Auckland CityMed Doctors – 8 Albert Street, Auckland. (Pharmacy, x-ray facility and lab tests available on-site).
Doctors in NZ – Tauranga
2nd Avenue Health Centre – 19 2nd Ave, Tauranga . (Pharmacy, urgent walk-in clinic and x-ray facility on-site).
Doctors in NZ – Mount Maunganui
The Doctors Bayfair – 42 Girven Road, Bayfair. (Pharmacy and urgent walk-in clinic on-site).
Doctors in NZ – Wellington
Courtenay Medical – Symes de Silva House, 97–99 Courtenay Place. (Has dentist, physio and lab tests in the same building).
AMC – Accident and Urgent Medical Centre -17 Adelaide Rd, Newtown/Mt Cook.
Walk-in service, no appointment necessary. Open every day 8 am – 11 pm.
- When you don’t think you can wait to see a doctor
- When you are a visitor or traveller to Wellington
- When you aren’t registered with a doctor or GP
Doctors in NZ – Christchurch
Doctors on Riccarton – 183 Riccarton Road, Riccarton
Moorhouse Medical Centre – 3 Pilgrim Place, Christchurch City. (Has pharmacy, x-ray facility and urgent walk-in clinic on-site).
Doctors in NZ – Queenstown
QMC – Queenstown Medical Centre – 9 Isle Street, Queenstown. (Has urgent walk-in clinic, sexual health clinic and travel clinic on-site).
How to find other health resources or medical help in New Zealand
These are all useful numbers to have saved in your mobile phone before you go to New Zealand:
In the case of an emergency, always call 111 which is the emergency service number for police, fire, or ambulance in New Zealand.
Healthline is a free telephone health advice service for everyone. The number is free to call (even from mobiles) 0800 611 116. You can get free advice from trained, registered nurses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Call Healthline if you are:
- Feeling unwell but don’t know if you need to see a doctor
- Needing some medical advice about someone else
- Travelling and need to know where the nearest pharmacy or doctor’s clinic is
Mental Health Helplines
Mental Health is important too, if you need to talk to someone, call one of the numbers below anytime for support from a trained counsellor:
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE)
Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757 or free text 4202
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865
You can also free call or text the 1737 service anytime, to talk with a trained counsellor for free.
Other Helplines in New Zealand
Rape Crisis – 0800 883 300 (for support after rape or sexual assault)
Alcohol and Drug Helpline – 0800 787 797 or online chat
OUTLine NZ – 0800 688 5463 (OUTLINE) Sexuality or Gender Identity Helpline provides confidential telephone support
Seniorline – 0800 725 463 A free information service for older people
Skylight – 0800 299 100 for support through trauma, loss and grief; (9 am–5 pm weekdays).
Going to the Hospital in New Zealand
If you have an accident whilst you’re travelling in New Zealand, don’t worry you won’t be left bleeding in the street, if you have no money.
Accidents are covered by something called ACC. It stands for Accident Compensation Corporation and it’s New Zealand’s no-fault personal injury or accident cover.
Everyone in New Zealand is covered by ACC’s no-fault scheme if they’re accidentally injured or in an accident, no matter whose fault it was.
No matter if they’re working or unemployed and it also includes visitors and travellers to New Zealand.
So yay for that!
So if you’re injured or are in an accident, either go to the Accident & Emergency at a hospital, or a health professional at a medical centre. The health professional will treat you, then help you fill out an ACC claim form and they’ll also send it to ACC for you.
If you had to pay a cost for this initial health professional’s visit, you’ll be able to claim this back later once ACC has accepted your claim, so keep your receipt for the doctor or hospital visit.
ACC can help you with:
- Treatment costs
- Prescription medication costs
- Physio or rehabilitation costs
- Compensation for lost earnings
- Help to get back to work
- Transport to and from the place of treatment
When I accidentally slashed my finger tendon by chopping veggies with a kitchen knife, I was able to be seen by the Accident & Emergency department at the hospital for no cost.
I had tendon plastic surgery arranged at no cost, and after I’d recovered I even had all the hand physiotherapy and rehabilitation costs covered. And I was paid 80% of my wages from my current temp job, whilst I was off work.
ACC was an absolute lifesaver when I needed it.
Although keep in mind, ACC only covers accidental injury in New Zealand, and you do have to prove it was an accident.
So if you need healthcare for other reasons, such as doctor’s appointments you’ll have to pay — every time.
Travel Insurance Will Save You Money — and Yes, it’s Worth it
Honestly, you might hear this all the time, but if you’re a backpacker or working holiday visa holder, the best way to avoid these healthcare costs and to cover yourself for illness is to have travel insurance.
As boring as it is, after 15 years of travelling and nomad-ing around the world and experiencing different health systems, it is literally the best way to protect yourself.
And it’s not as expensive as you think.
There are lots of travel insurance options out there, but these are the two I recommend for New Zealand.
Safety Wing Nomad Travel Insurance
Are you travelling around New Zealand, doing a bit of hiking, camping and exploring in general? Or are you a digital nomad? Then Safety Wing Nomad Insurance is perfect for you.
And they even cover you for covid. Winning!
World Nomads Travel Insurance
However, if you’re travelling around New Zealand doing a lot of outdoor activities or adrenalin sports, I really recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance.
They provide really comprehensive cover that covers you for a tonne of adventure activities, most of which other insurance companies don’t cover.
Getting ill when you’re travelling sucks.
But getting ill and having to spend a heap of your travel budget on doctors in New Zealand, sucks even more.
Be smart and protect yourself.
[…] 4:05 PM Found a 2018 blog post on doctors in New Zealand. […]