Leaving the Land Down Under for the Land of the Long White Cloud? Find affordable travel insurance for your trip to New Zealand.
With its picturesque, mountainous landscapes and adrenalin-pumping activities, New Zealand has something for every traveller. Plus, it's just a three hour plane ride away. For these reasons and more, it’s no wonder that New Zealand is one of Australia's favourite holiday destinations.
While New Zealand is a relatively safe country, accidents happen, which is why travel insurance is important. Make sure you have adequate travel insurance for New Zealand before you leave.
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New Zealand and Australia are signatories to a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA). What the RHCA means is that Australians have access to government medical facilities and care. However, it does not provide cover for ongoing treatment of existing health conditions.
The RHCA is no substitute for travel insurance
The RHCA should not be seen as a stand in for travel insurance. The RHCA only entitles you to Medicare levels of cover. Additionally, the RHCA is for medical only. Travel insurance covers situations such as additional accommodation costs, flights for family members or medical repatriation to Australia, which is why you should seriously consider travel insurance prior to your departure to New Zealand.
What are the risks of travelling to New Zealand?
Official government advice for travelling to New Zealand refers to the following risks:
- New Zealand is subject to earthquakes. Although rarely strong enough to feel, they could occur at any time. It’s important to know what to do in the event of a severe earthquake, and to be covered for any eventualities.
- Volcanic activity. There is volcanic activity at Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro, White Island and other sites which you should monitor if travelling to these areas.
- Rapid weather changes are common. When climbing or hiking, you are strongly advised to seek up to date information on local weather forecasts and track conditions.
- Dangerous driving conditions. Ice, snow, fog and high winds can cause hazardous driving conditions.
- Crime is similar to Australia. Thieves often target expensive items, such as passports and mobile phones, left in cars and campervans . Always keep these items in a safe place and report loss or theft of passport immediately.
- Beware of mountainous terrain. Especially around skiing areas where the roads are narrower and may be unpaved and without safety barriers.
- Extreme sport activities. Always use your own judgement and be aware of the safety standards.
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 providers provide cover for heli-skiing for an additional premium loading.
Looking for extreme sports cover?
New Zealand is one of the adventure capitals of the world. This country has truly captured the hearts of thrill-seekers, daredevils and adrenalin junkies. Bungee jumping, jet boating, mountain biking and skydiving are just some of the extreme sports New Zealand has to offer.
Check what your policy and what extra's you may need to add
Extreme sports are called “extreme” for a reason. If you’ll be undertaking any activity with intensified risks, make sure you check if you’re covered. Some New Zealand travel insurance providers do offer special extreme sport travel insurance, so that you can still get your adrenalin pumping, without worrying about cost of medical accidents or damage to hired gear.
You do need to be aware of the difference between seeking adventure and purposely putting yourself in a risky situation. If you decide to ignore ski warning signs, participate in extreme activities without wearing proper protection, or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol when you get injured, you will not be covered. You can have fun and be responsible at the same time.
Can I get backpacker cover?
What does backpacker travel insurance cover?
Taking out backpackers travel insurance covers you for things like theft of cash/personal items, medical emergencies, personal liability and, travel delays and cancellations. There are some providers who cover a few extreme sports, which will come in very handy in New Zealand. You do need to take out extra cover for this, so make sure you consider this when buying your NZ travel insurance.
How long does backpacker insurance last?
Another great benefit of backpackers insurance is the option of extending your policy. Many backpackers don’t have a set date of when they will return to Australia, so this gives you the flexibility to extend the policy for up to 18 months, while some general insurance covers will only allow for 12 months.
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 criteria in order to be approved for cover. 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 insurance providers 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.
Pre-existing medical conditions
Nobody wants a medical condition to get in the way of their trip. Travel insurance providers 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.
Many insurance providers 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 providers usually 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 specialty insurance policies are the way to go.
Even with cover, you will usually have to pay upfront and claim later for visits to GPs or hospital outpatient treatment. Most insurers will only pay upfront if you are admitted to hospital or require repatriation to Australia and most New Zealand hospitals will need your certificate of insurance and a guarantee of payment from your insurer before admitting you.
If you wish to be treated under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement you must advise the local medical staff and show your current Australian passport or evidence of Australian permanent residency and a valid Medicare card.
The key to selecting the right level of travel insurance is to ask yourself five important questions:
- Where are you going? The level of risk of earthquakes may be significantly higher in Christchurch for example.
- How long will you be there? Decide on one-off trip or multi-trip cover.
- What will you be doing there? New Zealand is famous for some risky activities, so make sure you have cover.
- Are you taking valuable items? Buy additional cover for expensive items if you're taking cameras or skiing equipment.
- Do you have any medical conditions? Declare all pre-existing conditions and take out additional cover if need be.
You don’t need a visitor visa to enter New Zealand if:
- You are a New Zealand or Australian citizen
- You hold a New Zealand resident visa or permanent resident visa
- You are a current Australian permanent resident or hold a current Australian resident return visa
- You are a diplomat or carry out certain roles in a consular office
- You are part of the military personnel
- You are a cruise ship passenger who meets certain requirements regarding time and destination
- You are an aircraft crew member on any commercial aircraft between New Zealand and any other country, for seven days from when the aircraft landed in New Zealand
- You are associated with a Contracting Party to the Antarctic Treaty and other Antarctic travellers
- You are from a visa-waiver country and do not intend to stay for longer than three months, or six months if you are from the UK
You do require a visa if you have answered NO to any or all of the above questions, been incarcerated, deported from any country, or involved in criminal or terrorist groups.
If you do need a visa:
Citizens and permanent residents of Australia and the UK do not require a visa to visit New Zealand, providing they only stay for three months (6 months for UK). Visitors from other countries need to apply for a visa and must:
- Be in good health and of good character
- Be a genuine temporary visitor
- Have a passport valid for at least 3 months past their departure date
- Have a departing airline ticket or letter from a travel provider confirming a booking
- Have a minimum $1,000 in funds for every month of their stay (or $400 per month if accommodation has been pre-paid)
- And even if you qualify for health care under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement, New Zealand authorities recommend that all visitors have travel insurance with medical cover
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, hiking and exploring the cycling trails.
- Autumn. March to May are great for hiking, with less tourists, beautiful autumn colours and the first dustings 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.
Due to its relatively small size, many travellers enjoy cruising from the North to the South Islands, taking in the country’s natural wonders. It’s important to be aware that roads can be narrow and winding, and can experience high winds and ice – particular difficult in a campervan. Weather can also change quickly, so just be extra careful when driving.
You can currently drive in New Zealand as a tourist if:
- You have an Australian licence – you can use this for up to 12 months
- You have a valid overseas drivers licence or valid driving permit
- You have not had your current New Zealand drivers licence suspended or disqualified
- You have been in New Zealand for less than 12 months
- Your overseas licence has either been issued in English, or you have an accurate translation of it in English
Road rules that you should remember while visiting New Zealand include:
- Drive on the left-hand-side of the road
- Obey the speed limits at all times
- Come to a complete stop at red lights
- Do not overtake traffic when there are unbroken double yellow lines on the road
- All passengers in the car must be safely restrained with seatbelts
- Do not drink and drive, this will also void your travel insurance
Australian dollars go a lot further in New Zealand, so it is worth exchanging some before you go. That way you will know what exchange rate you are getting and will have some local currency for smaller purchases. You should supplement cash with some of the following to ensure you have access to money at all times.
- Debit card. Australians can use their ATM cards in New Zealand. The advantage is you are using your own money, while the disadvantage is you won’t know what exchange rate you are getting.
- Credit card. These are accepted everywhere in New Zealand. The advantage is that you can buy now and pay later. The disadvantage is you’ll pay a fee to withdraw cash.
- Travel card. This is a card pre-loaded with money. The advantage is you lock in the exchange rate, while the disadvantage is if you reload it, you will have to pay a fee.
- Travellers cheques. These are less popular, but can still be useful. Their advantage is they are more secure (you need ID to cash them), while the disadvantage is there are fees for purchasing and cashing them.
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 provider 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.
|Police (General Emergency Call)||111|
|Ambulance and Rescue||111|
|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)9 257 1442|
Your travel insurance claims may be rejected for events New Zealand under these circumstances:
- Taking part in adventure activities not covered by your travel insurance policy e.g. Snowboarding at The Remarkables.
- You visit a region in the New Zealand where the Australian Government has issued a travel advisory warning e.g. if there are earthquakes.
- Claims that arise from breaking the law e.g. Driving across New Zealand without a license.
- Make sure you keep a note of your New Zealand travel insurance provider’s contact details and familiarise yourself with their contact process
- Inform your provider of any changes in your circumstances as soon as possible
- Sign up to travel alerts and warnings with smartraveller.gov.au. Remember, your travel insurance won’t cover you if you travel to a place issued with a travel warning
- Travelling in New Zealand is much like Australia. Crime rates are about the same and normal precautions should be taken with hire cars and personal belongings
- Unlike Australia, New Zealand is subject to earthquakes and volcanic activity, as evidenced by the recent earthquake in Christchurch. Having travel insurance would ensure that if a natural disaster occurred, you would be covered for evacuation, trip cancellation and other such circumstances
- If you plan to pursue risky activities in New Zealand, such as skiing, bungee jumping or hang gliding, you should also ensure your travel insurance covers you and obtain additional cover if it doesn’t
Ready to receive a quote for cover?
New Zealand is a country with a little something for everyone. Whether you’re a keen thrill seeker, or prefer hiking through the hills, it’s important to keep yourself protected if any mishaps occur along the way. Protecting yourself from expensive medical bills or delayed flights is essential for anyone planning an overseas trip. Compare travel insurance today, and find a type of cover that is specific to your needs.
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Picture: CameliaTWU, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped)
Picture: Nicolas Baltenneck, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped)