Pexels© Pexels

New Zealand Working Holiday & Student Insurance: FULL Guide šŸ©¹ [2024]

© Pexels
Article Single Pages©
Article Single Pages©
NZ Pocket Guide is 10 years old. Thank you for trusting us with your trip for over a decade!

How to Pick the Best Insurance for a Working Holiday or Studying New Zealand

The nitty-gritty of planning a trip to New Zealand starts here. Choosing the best medical, health and travel insurance for New Zealand can quickly become a nightmare and result in a decision made too quickly. You do not want to end up with a cover way too expensive or lacking the very basics that you will need for a working holiday or as an international student in New Zealand.

We have worked on a series of articles for you to understand the travel insurance world and make the best decision for you to get the right cover for your trip, such as the 14 Questions to Ask Before Buying Medical Travel Insurance. The article below, however, focuses on the basics of choosing a cover and what to look for when comparing your different options for working holiday and international student insurance for New Zealand.

Whatā€™s the Best Working Holiday and International Student Insurance for New Zealand?

Want to just skip to the good stuff? Scroll down to the “Whatā€™s the Best Insurance for New Zealand?” section toward the end of this insurance guide to get this question answered.

Why Do You Need Insurance for a Working Holiday or Studying in New Zealand?

First up, if you are on a Working Holiday Visa or a Student Visa in New Zealand, it is mandatory for you to have comprehensive health insurance for the length of your stay. This is one of the conditions of your visa, according to Immigration New Zealand. Make sure that you have your insurance policy certificate with you when entering the country and your proof of cover. You will also need proof of insurance when enrolling as an international student at a New Zealand university.

If you are only visiting New Zealand on a Visitor Visa, it is not mandatory to have health and travel insurance. If you’re still interested in picking something out, check out our guide, How to Choose Travel Insurance for New Zealand.

What to Look for When Choosing Working Holiday or International Student Insurance for New Zealand…

Pexels© Pexels

The Cover Length of New Zealand Travel Health and Travel Insurance

The first thing you need to consider when choosing working holiday insurance or international student insurance for New Zealand is how long the cover lasts, especially considering you could be in New Zealand for a few months to even a few years!

How Long to Get Insurance for a Working Holiday?

There are multiple schools of thought on the choice of cover length. If you have a Working Holiday Visa and have to get a cover for the length of your stay most people choose to go for a six months cover and renew it halfway through the year. This gives them more flexibility in case their trip runs short. On the other hand, this costs much more as two six-month plans are, on average, 30-40% more expensive than a 12-month plan, so bear that in mind.

How Long to Get Insurance for an International Student?

The length of your insurance cover for international students is usually a long more clear-cut. You can just select the length of your policy depending on when the term begins and ends (with a couple of weeks on either end to allow for settling in New Zealand, for example, see below). Or if you’re staying for the whole program, whether it’s a year, three years or five years, you can get cover for the first six months and see if you want to renew later. On the other hand, this costs much more as two six-month plans are, on average, 30-40% more expensive than a 12-month plan, so bear that in mind.

When to Start Your Cover

Then, there is also the matter of your cover start date. This determines the very day when your cover starts applying. If your cover includes transit to your destination then you will want the cover to start on the day you are planning to leave your home country. If it does not include transit, then get it to start on the day you are landing in New Zealand. The same rule applies to the cover end date.

Pexels© Pexels

What’s Included in the Travel Insurance?

This is the very point where things become complicated. Every single insurance company and every insurance plan will have widely different offers. It is important that you carefully check out all the inclusions in an insurance plan and consider what is useful and what is not. Many insurance companies like to throw huge numbers at you like, “Evacuation cover up to 1 million dollars”, which is pure bogus. A plane ticket out of New Zealand even on a medical seat costs nowhere near that much. Don’t get scammed paying for things that you don’t need.

What to Look for in Your New Zealand Working Holiday or International Student Insurance are:

  • Medical care
  • Medical evacuation
  • Baggage/personal items (property)
  • Loss of deposits (including tuition fees for students)
  • Work cover
  • Disrupted travel and transit.

Those are the items that you have the most chance of needing when travelling to, in and from New Zealand.

Bonus Tip: Covering possessions like your cell phone and laptop as an add-on to your travel insurance tends to be much cheaper than covering these items with separate insurance. By the way, be sure to check Will Your Phone Work in New Zealand? and How to Choose the Best Laptop for Backpacking.

Pixabay© Pixabay

What’s Excluded From Travel Insurance for New Zealand?

This category is even more important than the inclusions of a plan. It will tell you what items are not covered and what would make an item not covered.

Take Note of the Insurance Excess

Exclusions also indicate when the insurance usually kicks in, also known as your “excess”. For example, many insurance companies will only pay for a claim after the first NZ$1,000 has been paid or on top of New Zealand’s universal cover, the ACC (find out what ACC is in What is ACC and Employee Accident Cover?). If you are considering an insurance company with a very high excess that you believe you wouldn’t be able to afford to pay should something go wrong, then it’s best to go with another company.

Sports Exclusions

Most insurance plans will not include adventure sports, such as skydiving, white water rafting or anything in between. However, it is important for you to know that almost every single operator in New Zealand has insurance of their own that will cover you while on a tour with them. So those items are not as important as it seems at first glance.

New Zealand Working Holiday & Student Insurance: FULL Guide šŸ©¹ [2023]© Unsplash

What Can You Add to Your New Zealand Travel Insurance?

Virtually every insurance company will offer you to add additional cover from a few personal items, such as your laptop or camera, to specific situations like sailing. This is a great way to personalise your cover plan to your very needs, so it is always worth asking. Asking about these extra services also helps you test the customer service level of an insurance provider. We strongly suggest you get in contact with an insurer prior to subscribing to one of their plans, so to help you know if they will be helpful or not when you really need them.

It is also very important for you to know what you are looking for before shopping for insurance. This will shape your discussion with your insurer and make sure that you get what you want. Sometimes a simple basic plan with a small add-on specific to you is all you need. This simple tip can save you hundreds!

Not sure of what to ask? Check out these 14 Questions to Ask Before Buying Medical Travel Insurance.

New Zealand Working Holiday & Student Insurance: FULL Guide šŸ©¹ [2023]© Unsplash

Where is the Insurance Company Based?

Where are the insurance company that you are comparing based? Having a health insurance company based in New Zealand is likely to be a lot more helpful in desperate situations than back in your home country. If an insurance company is based in New Zealand, you know they are more specialised in dealing with emergencies that may occur in New Zealand, as well as the customs when it comes to medical situations.

Then again, if you have been using an insurance company from your home country for a long time and they have provided excellent service in the past, then you may feel safer going with what you know. But, for most international students and working holidaymakers in New Zealand, dealing with insurance companies for a long-term trip is often a new experience, so picking a company based in New Zealand is a great place to start.

New Zealand Working Holiday & Student Insurance: FULL Guide šŸ©¹ [2023]© Unsplash

What’s the Best Insurance for New Zealand?

Due to many of the reasons we have covered above and because we like to support local businesses, we recommend you check out Orbit Protect. They offer insurance plans specially designed for working holidaymakers and international students and are some of the most affordable on the market.

The Best Working Holiday Insurance for New Zealand

Working holiday insurance for New Zealand that we have used and can vouch for, Orbit Protect‘s Working Holiday Insurance is a good go-to for making sure you’re covered for the whole time you’re in New Zealand, as well as for up to 31 days if you’re travelling in the South-West Pacific to places like Australia, Fiji and New Caledonia.

Their working holiday insurance covers medical care, medical evacuation, loss of deposits with optional baggage cover, as well as cover for working in the most common jobs found in New Zealand.

The Best International Student Insurance for New Zealand

International student insurance that’s much more affordable than many of the New Zealand universities’ recommended choices, Orbit Protect‘s International Student Insurance is a good go-to for your time in New Zealand. Their international student insurance has two cover choices: a fully comprehensive insurance covering medical care, medical evacuation, loss of deposits (including tuition fees) and property or a cheaper insurance policy excluding property cover.

Orbit Protect also has insurance plans, specially designed for seasonal workers and visitors (just in case your parents come to visit), so go and check them out at

More About Working Holiday and International Student Insurance for New Zealand

And if you need more information about insurance and staying healthy during your working holiday or studies in New Zealand, we’ve got a lot of great easy-to-read articles to help you shop around and find the best fit for your trip. Check out:

For more pre-travel tips for a trip to New Zealand, make sure to read our Health Tips for Travelling to New Zealand.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Robin C.

This article has been reviewed and approved by Robin, who is the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. With more than 15 years of experience in the New Zealand tourism industry, Robin has co-founded three influential tourism businesses and five additional travel guides for South Pacific nations. He is an expert in New Zealand travel and has tested over 600 activities and 300+ accommodations across the country.

Was this article useful?