All You Need to Know About Public Healthcare in New Zealand

With Jacinda Ardern’s recent victory, emigrating from South Africa to New Zealand is more appealing than ever. But before you take the leap, and in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is helpful to research healthcare in New Zealand.

Private vs Public Healthcare

Just like South Africa, there is both private and public healthcare in New Zealand. The private sector is used to speed up non-emergency care and it comes at a premium. Unlike South Africa, though, the publicly funded healthcare system is excellent.

Funded by the taxpayers, New Zealand public healthcare is heavily-subsidised, if not free, to its permanent residents. Children’s immunisations and prescription medicine (under six years old), and standard medical tests are free, while prescription medication, visits to the GP, and ambulance services are subsidised.

Immigrants’ options

The Ministry of Health is responsible for deciding who qualifies for public healthcare. When you hold a New Zealand resident visa or a work visa valid for 2 years or longer, you will be eligible.

Until then, not all visa holders can get public healthcare in New Zealand. It is advisable to check the New Zealand Ministry of Health’s website to check your eligibility.

As soon as you can, register with a GP of your choosing. While there are no rules about which practice can choose to register with, take into account what specialties you may need and how busy the associated hospital is – waiting periods for non-emergencies can be a drawback.

Additionally, join your local Primary Health Organisation (PHO) which is district-funded and offers further medical subsidies.

If you have a long wait to qualify for public healthcare, buying health insurance cover – whether from an international or local health insurance provider – is not as costly as in many other parts of the world.


If you are injured as the result of an accident, the New Zealand Government provides comprehensive, no-fault personal injury cover for all its residents and visitors, provided by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

For more information on emigration from South Africa to New Zealand or Australia, please contact the best emigration advisers – the Tri-Nations Migration team.

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