Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools view  Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa

Health & Wellbeing in New Zealand

Holidays don't always go to plan! Being prepared and learning about health and safety risks in New Zealand before you arrive could save you from a holiday disaster. Here is some information to help you prepare a safe and healthy New Zealand adventure.

New Zealand is known by many as a safe country. But there are some things that you need to prepare for, and look out for on your New Zealand holiday...

In an emergency in New Zealand, dial 111

Travel Insurance

Before travelling to New Zealand it is advisable to organise travel insurance with a provider in your home country.

With the exclusion of accidental injury, hospital and medical services in New Zealand are not free for international visitors. In the case of an accident, New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) scheme will cover medical and hospital bills – but not loss of income during treatment. 

New Zealand has a wide range of public and private hospitals. Depending on your country of residence, international visitors may be charged for using the New Zealand public hospital system, which can be very expensive. There are some limited instances in which you may be eligible for free medical services in New Zealand. To find out if you are eligible, visit the Ministry of Health eligibility information page.

What to do

If you suffer serious illness or injury whilst in New Zealand you should:

  • Contact your travel insurance company immediately, asking them for advice
  • Inform your family, friends or employer
  • If necessary, contact your embassy in New Zealand. They may be able to provide advice on local hospital or other medical facilities, contact your family and keep them updated on your situation, help contact your insurance provider or assist with medical evacuation (at your own cost) if required.
  • Obtain a full medical report for your insurance company

(Information sourced from www.safetravel.govt.nz)

General Health & Wellbeing

Health Line:  There is a free 24-hour phone service called Health Line (0800 611 116) which provides free health advice 24 hours a day for anyone who is unsure whether they or the people they are with need medical attention. Health Line is staffed by registered nurses and is free.
Weather: New Zealand weather is extremely variable, hence the saying “four seasons in one day”.  Weather conditions can alter drastically at any time, so be prepared for any temperature. Sun stroke and hypothermia are real risks in New Zealand.
Mosquitoes: In wet, warm areas sand flies and mosquitoes can become pests. Although they are not dangerous, it is best to carry insect repellent, especially in National Parks and marsh lands.
Giardia: Some rivers, lakes and streams contain Giardia, a water parasite which causes severe diarrhoea. Always boil or purify lake or river water before drinking.
Sun Protection: New Zealand has an extremely high UV rating and care should be taken when spending prolonged periods in the sun. Sun hats and sunscreen should be worn if you are planning on spending longer than 15 minutes outdoors.
Medication: Visitors entering the country with supplies of personal medication are advised to obtain a doctor's certificate to avoid Customs concerns.
Contacts: A full list of local medical and healthcare contacts can be found in the front of the local telephone book.



Visitors to New Zealand do not require vaccinations.

Diseases carried by insects - such as Malaria, Dengue Fever and Ross River virus – are not found in New Zealand. If you intend to travel on to Australia or other parts of the Pacific, however, you should take precautions against these kinds of tropical diseases.

Health Services
Hospitals: Hospitals in New Zealand are world-class, though treatment for non-New Zealanders is not free (apart from accidental injuries, which are covered by ACC). View a list of regional hospitals >
Pharmacies: Pharmacies or Drug Stores, located in every town or city, are often referred to as “chemists” in New Zealand.  Pharmacists in New Zealand are trained professionals and the level of care and service is world-class.
Medication: Although some drugs can be purchased over the counter, most require a doctor’s prescription. Basic pain killers, vitamins and first aid supplies (such as band-aids) can be purchased at pharmacies or most supermarkets.
Open Hours: Most chemists or pharmacies are open during regular business hours (9am to 5pm), with some open after hours.


Water Safety

New Zealand has some of the most picturesque beaches and waterways in the world – but many have hidden dangers that can be harmful.

When swimming or surfing, stay alert and watch for:

  • Rip tides
  • Underwater currents
  • Submerged vegetation and tree trunks
  • Changeable weather conditions
  • Lifeguards and flagged swimming areas

When boating always:

  • Wear a life jacket
  • Carry emergency flares
  • Check the weather conditions and tides
  • Let others know your whereabouts and intended time of return

For information on how to stay safe in New Zealand's rivers, oceans and lakes visit:

Alpine Safety

New Zealand's alpine landscape is a great attraction for many overseas visitors. But tramping, hiking, walking, climbing and camping in New Zealand's mountains can be extremely dangerous.

When travelling into the backcountry or alpine regions of New Zealand, always:

  • Fill out an Intentions Form at your local DOC office
  • Check track, hut and weather conditions
  • Carry sufficient warm clothing, equipment, food & water
  • Carry a means of communication
  • Beware of rivers - know how to cross them and 'if in doubt, stay out'

(information sourced from New Zealand Mountain Safety Council)

 Cold Water Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park.  Nelson Tasman Tourism

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 Skydiving at Lake Wanaka, New Zealand.  Lake Wanaka Tourism

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Skiing, bungy jumping, hiking, jet boating... New Zealand is the ultimate destination for fun and adventure! 

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