Healthcare in New Zealand for Visitors and Non-Residents: A Guide to Seeing a Doctor 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 you through the healthcare system and what you need to know about seeing a doctor in New Zealand.
While you’re here, you might also be interested in our Health Tips for Travelling in New Zealand.
5 Quick 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 rarely immediately available. Alternatively, talk to a GP through a telehealth service (more of that below)
- Consider seeing a pharmacist or calling 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 they can show that the medication is prescribed to them. Find out more in What Do You Need to Declare When Arriving in New Zealand?
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, as well as online clinics (telehealth services). 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 at least a couple of days in advance.
Book a GP Consultation with CareHQ
Working in partnership with New Zealand GP practices to help lighten their load, as well as providing a convenient option for patients when there isn’t an in-person clinic nearby or it’s after hours, CareHQ is the easy way for travellers to see a doctor while in New Zealand.
CareHQ is a New Zealand online clinic that offers remote GP consultations through its phone app or website. All consultations are with New Zealand-registered GPs who are all highly trained in giving consultations remotely. They are available to international visitors from 7 am to 7 pm, 7 days a week.
Check out our complete guide to how CareHQ works in The Easy Way to See a Doctor for Tourists Travelling in New Zealand or head straight to carehq.co.nz to learn more.
How to Pay for a GP 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.
For more details on paying for your GP consultation, take a look at How to Pay for Healthcare Services in New Zealand.
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 each.
For more information on medical prescriptions, see How to Get a Medical Prescription in New Zealand.
Is Seeing a GP 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 New Zealand’s other healthcare services.
If you are unsure of what type of healthcare service you should use, it’s worth calling 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.
By the way, for other useful phone numbers to know in NZ, check out Important Contacts & Telephone Numbers for Travelling New Zealand.
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 illnesses and injuries but cannot prescribe stronger medication than what is available over the counter. We go over how pharmacies work in How to Get a Medical Prescription in New Zealand.
There are around 40 public hospitals in New Zealand, usually found in cities and large towns. Hospitals are the best place to go for urgent and emergency healthcare. 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 sooner.
How to Pay for Healthcare in New Zealand as a Non-Resident
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. While we have an in-depth guide on How to Pay for Healthcare Services in New Zealand, here’s a quick runddown.
ACC: New Zealand’s Universal Accident Cover
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 How to Choose the BEST Travel Insurance for New Zealand for advice on getting medical insurance for travelling in New Zealand.
In terms of the right payment methods to use to pay for your healthcare, check out The Best Way to Pay in New Zealand.
More About Healthcare in New Zealand for Travellers
That’s it for your guide to the New Zealand healthcare system and how to use it as a visitor or non-resident. For more health tips, be sure to check these out:
- How to Choose Travel Insurance for New Zealand
- 14 Questions to Ask Before Buying Medical Travel Insurance
- Health Tips For Travelling in New Zealand
Finally, for any other handy bits of advice for a trip to NZ, take a look at the 31 Tips for Travelling in New Zealand.