The Essential Tips for Staying Healthy While Travelling New Zealand
Don’t let something silly like “poor health” get in the way of having an amazing trip to New Zealand. In general, New Zealand is a super safe country, so you don’t have to worry about diseases around every corner. However, when being away from home comforts like your local doctors and pharmacy, it’s important to be prepared with the appropriate health items you need. Of course, this differs from person to person, but as long as you consult your doctor before you leave your country, stock up on prescription medication, use common sense when travelling, and keep a first aid kit in your day pack, you should have covered all your bases for a healthy trip to New Zealand! We’ll go through the medication to pack, vaccine requirements, what to do if you need to seek medical attention and more with our travel health tips for New Zealand.
By the way, check out more essential travel advice in the 31 Tips for Travelling in New Zealand when you’re done.
What Vaccinations Do You Need to Travel to New Zealand?
A vaccination that is mandatory to enter New Zealand, if you are over the age of 16, is a COVID-19 vaccination. You must prove you have had the full course of your COVID-19 vaccination by completing the New Zealand Traveller Declaration, which you can find out more about in A Guide to the NZ Traveller Declaration.
Approved COVID-19 Vaccinations for New Zealand
COVID-19 vaccinations that are approved to enter New Zealand include:
- Comirnaty (Pfizer)
- Sputnik Light
- Sputnik V
- Soberana 02
- Soberana Plus
- MVC COVID-19 vaccine
- Recombinant SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine (CHO Cell)
- Razi Cov Pars
- COVIran Barekat
Any COVID-19 vaccines added to the list, as well as the manufacturer name of all of the vaccines listed above, are published on covid19.govt.nz.
Other Vaccines for New Zealand
While there are no other vaccinations that are mandatory for entering New Zealand, it is always good to be up-to-date with routine vaccinations, such as:
- Influenza: recommended for those with poor health if arriving in the colder months (May-October)
- Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR): you may have already had this done since childhood; an adult booster is recommended
- Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (TDAP): some countries require this vaccine during childhood; an adult booster is recommended
- Polio: you may have already had this done since childhood; an adult booster is recommended.
Seek Medical Advice Before You Leave for New Zealand
Six to eight weeks before you travel, you should consult your doctor about any health concerns present in any stopover countries on your way to New Zealand and vaccinations that you might need. You should also ask your doctor about any ongoing health concerns present in New Zealand, not that we ever had any issue with that other than the COVID-19 pandemic, but who knows…
Make sure to also ask about what medication you should pack with you on your trip. Your doctor is able to provide you with the advice you need for your particular circumstances and provide you with up-to-date travel health advice based on official sources. As a minimum, you should ensure that all your routine immunisations are up-to-date such as influenza, tetanus, measles or polio vaccinations (see section above).
Different countries have different rules on the types of medications you can bring into the county. If you need to take medications with you, check the regulations that apply to your stopover country if you plan on leaving the airport. For New Zealand, most rules can be found on the Medsafe website.
In short, you will need a reasonable excuse to bring medication into the country. If you are travelling with a large quantity of medication, ask your doctor to give you a letter explaining why you are carrying the medication. You may also need one from your pharmacist as well. All letters must be written in English or translated into English.
How Much Prescription Medication Can You Take to New Zealand?
Due to Custom’s regulations, you will only be able to bring three months’ worth of supplies for each prescribed medication. See Arriving in New Zealand: Airport Customs, Biosecurity & the Arrival Process for more advice on the subject.
Should you be visiting New Zealand for a while and need to get more prescribed medication while in the country, check out our advice on How to Get a Medical Prescription in New Zealand.
Get Travel Health Insurance
Getting travel insurance is a choice by many for covering the costs of those super-expensive medical bills abroad. Although it is not a mandatory requirement for visitors to have travel insurance in New Zealand, it is for those on a Working Holiday Visa or Student Visa.
The reasons why you might want to consider travel insurance for New Zealand include, if:
- You need medical treatment
- You miss your flight
- You lose valuables like your passport or wallet
- The airline loses your luggage.
We have a full guide on what to look for when choosing travel insurance, so check it out at How to Choose the BEST Travel Insurance for New Zealand.
10 Health Tips While in New Zealand
We’ll repeat it one more time: New Zealand is very safe! Tap water is drinkable and, aside from the “travel bug”, we have no unusual diseases rampaging the country. However, you should still use common sense, for instance:
- Carry medicines in your hand luggage in case your check-in luggage gets lost
- Wear a medical alert bracelet if you have any serious allergies or chronic illness
- Wear SPF 30+ sunscreen and reapply regularly
- If hygiene standards are a bit suspect, eat only food that has been thoroughly cooked
- On hikes or at remote campsites, only drink water that has been boiled or purified
- In areas with a lot of insects, use insect repellent to avoid unpleasant bites
- If you have to see a doctor, make sure to obtain a full written medical report for your insurer and/or your doctor back home
- If you feel sick shortly after arriving in New Zealand, tell your doctor which countries you have visited, including your stopover countries and what you have eaten during the stopovers
- If you feel sick shortly after coming home, this might be because you already miss New Zealand, so plan a trip back *winky face
- If you have food allergies, follow our 8 Tips for Cooking in a Shared Kitchen with Food Allergies.
Travel First Aid Kit Checklist: What Medication to Pack for New Zealand
For certain people and destinations, some items in your first aid kit are more important than others. Always ask a pharmacist or doctor which items you will need for your trip to New Zealand. For now, here are some ideas:
- Aloe vera soothing cream: for sunburn
- Anti-cramping medicines: relief of stomach ache and pain due to cramps or spasms
- Anti-diarrhoea pills: relief from diarrhoea, such as loperamide
- Antihistamine pills or cream: relief from allergy, rash and bites
- Antiseptic cream: to treat minor skin infections
- Butterfly closures: pull together edges of small wounds
- Disinfectant wipes: for cuts
- Elastic wraps: for twisted ankles
- Fluid replacement sachets: electrolyte replacement to treat and prevent dehydration (get baby electrolytes for infants)
- Gauzes: for cuts
- Glasses/contact lenses: if applicable; it’s a good idea to bring spare
- Gloves: for cuts
- Hand sanitiser: an alternative to hand washing and a good preventative against colds, flu and tummy bugs
- Insect repellent: provides protection against mosquitoes, sandflies and other insect bites
- Multivitamins: boost intake of vitamins when dietary intake is poor
- Nasal spray decongestant: relieves nasal congestion, particularly if travelling by plane
- Pain relief medicines: like paracetamol and ibuprofen relieve different types of pain including toothache, headache and backache, also reduces symptoms associated with fever
- Plasters (bandaids): for minor cuts. Also, blister treatments and prevention if hiking
- Prescribed medication: any medication prescribed to you
- Seasickness pills: if going on a cruise/boat trip
- Sunscreen: protect against sunburn. Be sure to also purchase something for your lips as well as face and body
- Thermometer: to monitor temperature
- Tweezers: to remove shards, leeches and bugs
- Water purifying tablets or Lifestraw: make contaminated water safe to drink.
For more information on what to pack, check out our New Zealand Packing List: What to Pack for New Zealand.
If You Need to Seek Medical Treatment in New Zealand…
Should the worst happen and you or those you are travelling with fall ill or have an accident, never fear. New Zealand has a capable healthcare system that will never turn away international visitors or non-residents.
The Cost of New Zealand Healthcare
Healthcare is heavily subsidised and even some of the costs for injuries caused by accidents in New Zealand are covered by the universal insurance, ACC, not to mention your travel insurance. Learn more about paying for healthcare in How to Pay for Healthcare Services in New Zealand.
Where to Find Health Services in New Zealand
Most New Zealand towns have a medical centre where you can seek a doctor/GP consultation and get medication prescribed. Pharmacies are also abundant to get an array of medications and free advice from pharmacists. Larger towns also have a hospital should you need more serious treatment. If push comes to shove, you can always use a telehealth website or app, as explained in our guide to using CareHQ.
To learn more about how the healthcare system works, head to A Traveller’s Guide to Healthcare in New Zealand.
The NZ Emergency Phone Number
Finally, remember that the emergency phone number in New Zealand is 111. For more useful phone numbers, check out Important Contacts & Telephone Numbers for Travelling New Zealand.
More Travel Health Tips for New Zealand
It is important that you keep up to date with any health issue that may arise. If anything major happens, the media in the country will cover it, so stay in touch with the local news.
If you are worried about travelling in New Zealand, don’t be. Here are a bunch of helpful articles that should reassure you:
- Is New Zealand Safe?
- 14 Questions to Ask Before Buying Travel Insurance
- Disability and Backpacking in New Zealand
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in A Traveller’s Guide to Healthcare in New Zealand.