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Do Australians need travel insurance to visit New Zealand?

Jumping over the Tasman for a trip to New Zealand? Find out why travel insurance is still worth having.

Travel insurance can protect you from a wide range of circumstances. The most affordable basic policies can offer effective overseas medical and personal liability cover, protecting you from these potentially devastating costs.

You might consider medical cover as the minimum requirement for your travel insurance policy, and then depending on your planned activities in New Zealand, you can add additional cover in the event of an accident while carrying out these activities.

There is a reciprocal health care agreement (RHCA) in place between Australia and New Zealand which entitles eligible visitors to basic subsidised emergency care, not unlike what’s offered by Medicare in Australia, but travel insurance is still recommended for a higher level of medical attention at reduced prices.

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What does the RHCA cover?

The reciprocal health care agreement lets Medicare card-holding Australians access limited medical services. Even without travel insurance, Medicare-eligible Australians in New Zealand are covered for in-patient public hospital treatments and accommodation.

The costs not covered, which will need to be paid either out of pocket or with travel insurance, include:

  • All other medical treatments, including any hospital outpatient treatments and all private hospital services. You or your travel insurance will need to pay these in full.
  • Medical repatriation and evacuation costs. If you’re injured or taken ill in an isolated area, or need emergency transport to more advanced medical facilities elsewhere, you or your travel insurance will need to cover the costs.
  • Prescription medicines. Once you have paid the full cost of 20 prescriptions in one year, you can get a prescription subsidy card which entitles you to discounts.
  • Children’s hospital services are still charged, but at a reduced rate.

What else can travel insurance cover me for?

You may be dependent on travel insurance for essential medical cover in New Zealand, but can also select a policy that offers a range of additional benefits.

  • Cancellation cover, including for bad weather, strikes, missed flights, travel delays, reimbursement of prepaid expenses and more
  • Luggage and personal belongings cover, for theft, destruction and damage of luggage and personal possessions. Consider extra cover for valuables if needed
  • Cover for loss of cash, passports and other essential travel documents
  • Permanent disability, loss of income and death cover in case of serious misadventure
  • Personal liability, offering millions of dollars of cover in the event of you damaging someone else’s property or injuring them
  • Rental car excess insurance. Travel insurance can cover you for this cost, either built into policies or as an optional extra
  • Alternative transportation costs, unforeseen accommodation expenses, lost deposits and other costs associated with changes of travel plans
  • Accidents that occurred when taking part in a range of sports or adventure activities

Finding the right travel insurance policy can help you have more flexibility and security on your trip, even when things go wrong.

What activities should I get covered for?

Not all travel insurance policies will, by default, include cover for all the activities you plan on doing in New Zealand. Even some of the more common and popular pastimes, like surfing, are not necessarily covered by travel insurance policies. It can be advisable to look through your policy and specifically check whether you’re covered for certain planned activities.

  • Many policies will cover low-risk sports, such as netball or bowling, in some way.
  • Fewer policies will cover medium-risk sports such as football or watersports, but you can still find cover easily with sports travel insurance policies.
  • Few policies will cover high-risk sports, such as skydiving, bungee jumping or scuba diving, by default. Special conditions may apply, such as you needing to hold appropriate certification. Specifically looking at adventure travel insurance policies may be a convenient way of finding policies with appropriate cover.

In particular, you may need to consider snowsports cover. This is one of the main reasons so many Australians hop over to New Zealand every winter, but it’s important to remember that very few travel insurance policies will include snowsports cover by default. Instead, you may need to purchase extra snowsports cover to go with your policy. This can cover the costs of:

  • Lost or stolen gear
  • Non-refundable tickets when lifts are closed
  • Injuries that occurred while skiing or snowboarding
  • Emergency evacuation
  • Extreme weather refunds

Standard snowsports cover can be a good idea if you’re hitting the slopes, while off-piste cover may be required if you plan on going backcountry.

How much does travel insurance for New Zealand cost?

The cost of travel insurance goes up with policy comprehensiveness, your age, the length of your trip and the dangerousness of your destination. Prices listed are entry-level prices for each policy type, for a 30 year old spending two weeks in NZ.

Prices may be higher with other policy types such as:

  • Annual multi-trip cover. Travel insurance for multiple trips per year instead of just one.
  • Family travel cover. It can save you money if you’re travelling with kids, but overall it costs more than cover for just one person.
Policy typePrices starting from...
Basic travel insurance$20.82
Comprehensive travel insurance$43.74
Comprehensive insurance with ski cover$82.01

Data last confirmed as correct 19 Jan 2018

Do I need travel insurance for New Zealand?

If you’re going to New Zealand you already have a minimal level of medical cover with the RHCA, but this can still leave you with considerable out-of-pocket expenses, and will only entitle you to public hospital services.

Travel insurance for New Zealand is affordable, easy to find and buy, and can protect you from potentially devastating costs while simultaneously making your trip that much easier and more peaceful. Even if you’re only going to New Zealand, travel insurance can still offer exceptional value for money.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    MichelleOctober 12, 2017

    My family of 5 is traveling to New Zealand for just over four weeks from early December to early January. I am wondering if we need to get travel insurance or not? I know basic medical is covered as we are covered by Medicare and New Zealand recognises that as cover for them.

    • Staff
      JhezelynOctober 13, 2017Staff

      Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Australians can access New Zealand’s public health care system in an emergency, but travel insurance is still essential. New Zealand and Australia have a reciprocal health care agreement, meaning that Australian travellers can access New Zealand’s public health service in an emergency, and vice versa. You’ll still have to pay some fees for treatment and medication (you’ll be charged the same amount as a New Zealand resident) and it’s important to remember the agreement isn’t a replacement for travel insurance – which is always a necessity. Remember to take your Medicare card with you – you’ll need it, along with your passport, to prove that you’re eligible.

      Please fill out the form here to get quotes for your trip to New Zealand.


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