expat network

Health Guidelines For New Zealand

There are no pervasive diseases in New Zealand that would affect travellers or expats. There are a few illnesses, however, that can be contracted by drinking water directly from lakes and streams in some areas.

Some lakes in South Island are home to a tiny organism that can cause a skin irritation. As the organism is more prevalent in shallow areas, you will be less likely to encounter it in deeper waters.

Streams below the tree line can be infected by giardia, a parasite that can cause gastrointestinal distress. If you are out hiking or camping, drink only from streams above the tree line.

Exposure to the sun can be a real problem in New Zealand, where ultraviolet rays are 20 per cent stronger than in Australia. As the beauty of the country lures you outside and to the beaches, take care to cover up and wear strong sun block and sun-shading hats.

Drink plenty of fluids when outside for extended periods of time, to avoid dehydration. Try to avoid the sun in the middle of the day when the rays are strongest.
There are no vaccinations required to enter New Zealand. However, depending on how extensively you may be travelling while in New Zealand and your health, you may consider having vaccines for hepatitis B, typhoid, and cholera. Booster doses of tetanus and polio vaccines are also options for travellers.

The normal childhood vaccines should be up to date, including measles, mumps, rubella (MMR vaccine); diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP vaccine); and polio vaccine.
Overseen by the Ministry of Health, the New Zealand medical system is well developed, of high quality and reasonably priced. A long history of state-assisted healthcare is a matter of pride.

All New Zealanders, all residents of the UK and Australia, and those with permanent residency status are provided free out-patient and in-patient services. Services include maternity; paediatric care from birth to six years of age, including a free immunisation programme up to 11 years; mental health; child abuse; domestic or sexual abuse; sexually transmitted diseases; intellectual handicap; and substance abuse.

The Health Funding Authority (HFA) and the District Health Boards (DHB) have been established to oversee the Health Service.

The Public Health System pays on a sliding scale for a part of a resident’s medical bill. Non-residents – except for citizens of the UK and Australia, and work visa holders entitled to stay for two years – are not eligible for reductions in fees and are charged in full for medical services. To determine eligibility for public health care coverage, click here.

Cash payment may be required for health services, especially at hospitals. The hospital is responsible for finding out a patient’s residential status before admission. There are specific policies and procedures for charging non-New Zealand residents. If you are staying in New Zealand for longer than two years, it is essential that you have private medical insurance.

If you suffer personal injury by accident in New Zealand, you are entitled to compensation, but may not sue for damages as administered by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

Non-public, not-for-profit insurance groups also offer coverage in New Zealand.
Good hospitals are located in all major New Zealand cities. In addition, there are private emergency medical centres in Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington.