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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 in 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.

There is a reciprocal health care agreement (RHCA) in place between Australia and New Zealand that 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.

Do you 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.

Why get travel insurance for NZ?

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 to 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.

Find out about travel money options for New Zealand

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

What activities should you get covered?

Not all travel insurance policies will, by default, include cover for all the activities you plan on doing in New Zealand. You should look through your policy and check whether you’re covered for certain planned activities.

  • Many policies cover low-risk sports such as netball or bowling.
  • Fewer policies 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 need to hold appropriate certification. Specifically looking at adventure travel insurance policies may be a convenient way of finding policies with appropriate cover.

Travel Insurance for skiing in New Zealand

Skiing or snowboarding is an extremely popular tourist activity in New Zealand. If you’re planning a snow holiday, it’s imperative you know what you are covered for should anything go wrong. Some general travel insurance will not cover any medical emergencies that occur while you are skiing or snowboarding, meaning you could be forking out thousands of dollars in hospital bills if you’re seriously injured.

Most ski policies cover:

  • Emergency hospital transfers. Should an accident occur, snow travel insurance cover can provide emergency evacuation to hospital and even for helicopter rescue if required.
  • Extreme weather conditions. If extreme weather such as blizzards and snowstorms, snow travel insurance cover allows you to recoup prepaid costs and expenses.
  • Cover for equipment hire. Winter sports travel insurance covers loss or damage to hired and owned ski or snowboard equipment. If your ski gear is delayed (for more than 24 hours) or lost by your carrier, your insurer may cover the costs associated with hiring equipment.
  • Weather related issues. Many snow travel insurance plans cover you for transport and accommodation expenses if you are forced to travel to a new resort due to inclement weather.
  • Unused ski passes or lessons. Depending on which cover you take out, you may also be covered for unused ski passes, equipment hire and lessons in the event that you are unwell or as a result of loss or theft.
  • Heli-skiing. Many travel insurance brands provide cover for heli-skiing for an additional premium loading.

Learn more about travel insurance for the snow

Need specialist cover?

Not everyone is heading to New Zealand to jump out of a plane or go mountain biking. The landscape itself is enough to attract tourists wanting to take in picturesque surroundings. It’s a great destination for anyone travelling with a family, and with many tours and cruises available, it has also become a hotspot for retirees. Here are a few alternative types of travel insurance to consider:

Travelling when pregnant

When applying for travel insurance while pregnant, there is usually a strict criterion in order to be approved for coverage. You will be covered for general things like medical emergencies, lost or damaged luggage, personal liability and travel delays or cancellations. However, there are numerous things most travel insurance brands will not cover you for if you are pregnant, including childbirth and the health of the newborn. Above all, it is imperative you talk to your GP or midwife to see if you have the all clear to travel while pregnant.

Working holiday insurance

If you're planning on having a working holiday while you're in NZ and you have travel insurance be sure to check the fine print. Insurers exclude cover for a range of physical or manual work so you should keep an eye out for exclusions including:

  • Manual or hazardous work will not be covered
  • No cover provided for personal liability while working
  • Offshore rigs, underground or in caves
  • Mountaineering or rock climbing instructor or mountain guide

Pre-existing medical conditions

Nobody wants a medical condition to get in the way of their trip. Travel insurance brands won’t cover you if something happens to you because of your condition if you haven’t told them about it. Be sure to list all medical conditions when applying for your travel insurance. You may need to pay an extra premium, but this is better than the alternative.

Learn more about how pre-existing conditions are treated by insurers

Cover for seniors

Many travel insurance brands offer travel insurance specific to over 65s. They usually offer unlimited medical emergency/expenses cover. They also cover all the standard features like travel delays, lost or damaged luggage and personal liability. A great benefit of this insurance is that most travel insurance brands cover amateur sporting activities at no extra cost. If you’re over 65 and are looking for affordable insurance without having to sacrifice coverage, these speciality insurance policies are the way to go.

Find out more about seniors travel insurance

When is the best time to travel to New Zealand?

All four seasons have something special to offer in New Zealand.

  • Summer. From December to February, New Zealand is an outdoor paradise, with popular pastimes including beaches, trekking and exploring the cycling trails.
  • Autumn. March to May is great for hiking, with fewer tourists, beautiful autumn colours and the first dusting of snow starting to appear.
  • Winter. June to August are peak skiing months, when everyone heads for Queenstown and the sensational skiing at spots like Treble Cone, the Remarkables and Coronet Peak.
  • Spring. September to November are some of the best months, with warmer days and longer hours of daylight for skiing, hiking, cycling and fishing.

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Who to contact in an emergency

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance brand in the first instance.

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly. If you are not satisfied with their response, you can visit the New Zealand consumer affairs website to lodge a complaint, and let your travel agent know.

Emergency ServicesTelephone
Police (General Emergency Call)
Ambulance and Rescue
Healthline (Medical Emergency Call)
+64 (0)800 611 116
Coast Guard New Zealand
+64 (0)9 489 1510
Wellington Air Rescue Centre
+64 (0)4 387 9591
Auckland Air Ambulance Base
+64 (0)9 913 2941

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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.

    • finder Customer Care
      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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