Things to Know Before Seeing a Doctor in New Zealand

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Healthcare in New Zealand

Getting sick while travelling is never fun. Fortunately, healthcare in New Zealand is readily available for overseas visitors. Plus, you have multiple options, from free consultations with pharmacists to emergency care in hospitals. Even non-residents can go to a medical centre in New Zealand and seek medical advice from a doctor, otherwise known as a GP. We’ll guide through the healthcare system in New Zealand and what you need to know about seeing a doctor in New Zealand with this quick guide.

While you’re here, you might also be interested in the Health Tips For Travelling in New Zealand.

5 Tips for Seeing a Doctor in New Zealand

  • In an emergency, call 111
  • Doctor consultations and prescriptions are very affordable. Even if you don’t have medical insurance, still see a doctor if you need to!
  • It’s best to book an appointment at a medical centre as soon as possible, as GPs are not often immediately available
  • Consider seeing a pharmacist or calling the Healthline first to get medical advice quickly and see whether it is appropriate to see a doctor
  • Travellers to New Zealand can bring prescribed medication for up to three months through customs, as long as you can show that the medication is prescribed to you. Find out more in What Do You Need to Declare When Arriving in New Zealand?
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What is a GP?

Doctors in New Zealand are more commonly known as GPs (General Practioner).

A GP is a qualified doctor who can write prescriptions for medication for you and refer you for further tests or specialist treatment if needed.

GPs are who you should seek medical advice from if your case is not an emergency.

Where to Find a GP in New Zealand

GPs operate out of New Zealand medical centres. Medical centres can be found in almost every city, town and suburb. We recommend booking an appointment with a GP through a medical centre in advance, as many medical centres in New Zealand are usually booked up a couple of days in advance.

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How to Pay for a Doctor’s Consultation

Both New Zealand residents and overseas visitors need to pay for seeing a GP in New Zealand.

The price for a GP consultation, if you are a non-resident, is usually around NZ$80. This will be paid via the medical centre’s receptionist immediately after your GP consultation.

Prescription Costs in New Zealand

A GP might prescribe you medication, which is available to pick-up from a pharmacy. Much of the medication in New Zealand is subsidised by the government. GPs will almost always prescribe subsidised medication so you get access to the most affordable medication possible. Subsidised medication usually costs NZ$5-$15.

For more information on medical prescriptions, see How to Get a Medical Prescription in New Zealand.

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Is a Doctor the Right Choice?

Doctors, or GPs, are the right choice if you need medical advice in non-emergency situations. However, it’s also worth considering these other healthcare services.


If you are unsure of what type of healthcare service you should use, it’s worth calling the Healthline. This is a free telephone health advice service where you will talk to a registered nurse. They will advise on whether to see a doctor, where to find the nearest doctor or whether to see a pharmacist.

The Healthline is available 24/7. Call: 0800 611 116


Pharmacists in New Zealand offer free consultations, both in-person at a pharmacy (otherwise known as a chemist) and over the phone by calling the pharmacy phone number. Pharmacists can offer advice on minor illness and injuries, but cannot prescribe stronger medication than what is available over the counter.


There are around 40 public hospitals in New Zealand, usually found in cities and large towns. Hospitals are the best place to go to for urgent and emergency health care. Note that hospitals usually have long waiting times – often a couple of hours to half a day. If your case is more urgent, then you will be put on an urgent waiting list and be seen to sooner.

While no one can be refused emergency healthcare if they are unable to pay, you will still be expected to pay for some services as a non-New Zealand resident. Part of the costs for injuries caused by an accident will be covered under the New Zealand universal insurance, ACC, and Employee Accident Cover if you are employed in New Zealand – find out more in What is ACC and Employee Accident Cover?

A portion of the hospital care will need to be paid by you or your travel medical insurance. See Medical and Travel Insurance for New Zealand for advice on getting medical insurance for travelling in New Zealand.

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