Fancy a spot of adventure? New Zealand may be the ideal locale for you. Picture it – breakfast in the morning in a cosmopolitan cafe, by midday you’re driving across rolling green hills. And at night, you reach mountains that stretch well beyond the horizon.
More than 1.4 million Australians made the trip across the Tasman to visit this lovely country in 2017-18, and 1.3 million in 2016-17. But even though it’s been our number one overseas destination for the past few years, it would still be foolish to travel there without some protection.
Do I need travel insurance for New Zealand?
Even when you travel to a country as close to Australia as New Zealand, travel insurance is a smart idea. For example, out of the 1,419,600 Aussies who travelled to New Zealand in 2017-18, there were only 123 cases of missing passports.
While 123 is still proportionately quite low, it could easily happen to you.
In fact, there are a wealth of things that can go wrong on your trip that travel insurance can help you with. You might injure yourself out on the ski slopes, or catch an illness and need to see a doctor.
Let’s take a closer look at what travel insurance can offer you.
N.B. Coverage differs per policy. Read your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to determine what is and isn’t covered.
Unforeseen medical expenses
You have access to subsidised healthcare if you incur medical costs for essential treatment, thanks to the reciprocal health care agreement between our country and New Zealand; you just have to show your Australian passport and Medicare card.
However, this agreement does not cover you for all medical expenses, just essential ones like hospital care and maternity services. If you incur any additional expenses for accommodation, evacuation or repatriation (i.e. transport back to Australia), you may have to pay those yourself, unless you have a suitable travel insurance policy.
For broader coverage, an insurance policy is your best bet to avoid significant costs. It’ll mean you can visit a doctor to treat a stomach bug, pick up prescription medications, and more – at little to no cost. You should be mindful, however, that your insurance policy may not cover any pre-existing medical conditions and medical coverage varies from policy to policy. Find out more about coverage for pre-existing medical conditions and always remember to read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).
While you’re in New Zealand, you may want to try jumping off an Auckland tower tethered only to a chord, or jump on the world’s biggest swing near Queenstown. Perhaps you want to be truly daring and go white water rafting, or attempt some mountain climbing. Whatever it is, you’ll need to ensure the activities on your itinerary are covered by your travel insurance policy, just in case.
New Zealand is skiing and snowboarding nirvana. If you choose the right time of the year, you can spend days in the mountains racing down pristine white slopes with the sky forever surrounding you. Skiing is a somewhat risky activity, which is why insurers usually single it out on their policies as such, and some policies may outright exclude it from coverage. Because of this, you’ll need to be certain that yours does cover this activity – even if it’s as an extra feature you need to pay for.
If you’re not sure, call the insurer and ask.
Lost/stolen luggage and belongings
Losing your belongings can quickly ruin a perfect holiday, but if you take out insurance before you leave, you should be able to get reimbursed for your loss. That being said, keep in mind there are circumstances where you’ll be unable to claim; for example, if you leave your luggage unattended and it’s stolen.
If your passport is lost or stolen, you’ll need to contact your insurer, as well as the Australian consulate in New Zealand, as the consulate may be able to issue you with a replacement passport.
New Zealand is blessed with some truly outstanding scenery across the north and south islands, as well as equally imbued with awesome driving roads for you to access. Hiring a car is a popular option for tourists wishing to explore as much of the country as possible. In the event you’re in an accident and have to pay an excess to your rental car company, your travel insurer may cover the excess payment. However, this will depend on the circumstances and your level of cover.
Also, you’re welcome to go ahead and use your Australian driving licence to drive in New Zealand, because the limit is a whole 12 months before you have to apply for a New Zealand license! Just be careful of ice, snow, and other weather conditions you may not typically experience in Australia, and make sure you learn New Zealand’s road rules before you get behind the wheel.
Travel delays or cancellations
If your airline cancels or delays your flight, and you miss a bunch of tours, you would normally be out of pocket with no recourse for getting your money back. Provided your delay was out of your control (e.g. a snowstorm in Otago, or an uncovered vehicle defect that means the airline needs to put you on a new flight), your insurer may be able to cover those costs for you – up to a certain value, and if your airline hasn’t already reimbursed you.
In the event you have to cut your trip short, you may be covered for losses you incur, such as cancellation fees or lost deposits. The chief reasons an insurer will consider this will be:
- you or your partner have developed a serious medical condition
- your business or home in Australia has been seriously damaged or destroyed
New Zealand does experience its fair share of natural disasters, having been badly hit by earthquakes over the last few years, such as the 2011 Christchurch and 2016 Kaikoura earthquakes. New Zealand experiences thousands of earthquakes every year, although only around 150-200 are actually strong enough to be felt.⁴ You can find more information about what to do during an earthquake on Smartraveller.
In addition to geological activity, you may also experience severe weather like snow, heavy rainfalls, fog and high winds at certain times throughout the year.
If you do run into issues abroad because of the weather or natural disasters, your policy may pay for medical expenses and lost luggage you incur. It’s not something you can plan for, but hopefully, this will give you a little peace of mind.
Check the Smartraveller.gov.au website before you leave to make sure there aren’t any current travel warnings for the region you plan on travelling to.
What should my travel insurance policy for New Zealand include?
Hopefully, you’re now aware of the importance of travel insurance, which, as we talked about earlier, can help you out of some sticky situations you may find yourself in while travelling. Allow us to impart a couple more bits of information about travel insurance for New Zealand.
As we mentioned above, extreme and winter sports may not be automatically included in travel insurance policies. However, you may find that some insurers do offer cover for these sports as an optional extra on top of your standard policy.
If you’re planning to participate in an extreme or winter sport, you should check if your insurance covers that sport. Simply contact your insurer to discuss this with them.
Travelling with kids?
The good news is you may not need to take out an additional policy to cover them, as many travel insurers include coverage for your kids under your own policy (provided they’re younger than a certain age) – just let your insurer know they’re coming with you.
If they’re travelling by themselves, however, you’ll need to get them insured with their own policy.
What to do in an emergency
If you have an accident, do as you would in Australia and contact emergency services. The number is 111 in New Zealand.
Once the situation has been resolved, get in touch with your travel insurer (ideally within 24 hours of the incident) and let them know what happened. They may be able to help, but you may need a copy of the police report to make a claim, so make sure you ask for one when reporting the incident.
You can also contact the Australian High Commission or Consulate-General in New Zealand for consular help (e.g. you’ve lost your passport, or you require emergency legal representation). Just be aware that consular assistance is limited; you can find out what the government can and can’t help you with through the Consular Services Charter on Smartraveller.³ You can also find the contact details of the High Commission and Consulate-General in New Zealand on Smartraveller.
Top travel tips for New Zealand
1. Be prepared for any weather
New Zealand’s climate is known for changing at the drop of a hat, and can be severe with heavy rains and flash floods. You can stay up to date with the weather through New Zealand’s MetService.
2. Australians don’t need visas
Provided you’re (a) travelling on your Australian passport or current Australian resident return visa, and (b) don’t have any convictions or haven’t been deported from any country, you can visit New Zealand without a visa or permit.
3. You need more than a driver’s license to purchase alcohol
Unfortunately, an Australian driver’s license isn’t an acceptable identification by New Zealand law.⁴ If you want a cheeky drink across the Tasman, you’ll need to provide your passport or a current New Zealand driver’s license.
4. You still need to check customs before entering New Zealand
Like Australia, New Zealand has strict customs rules. You can check what you can and can’t bring into the country on the New Zealand Customs Service website, and it can’t hurt to double check Australia’s own customs rules before you return.
Confused? Compare travel insurance for New Zealand with us!
What is and isn’t covered can vary significantly from insurer to insurer, which is why it pays to compare a number of travel insurance policies. Don’t worry; we’ll help you do just that in minutes with our simple travel insurance comparison service.
Australian Government: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Consular State of Play 2017-18, September 2018.
Australian Government: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Consular State of Play 2016-17, September 2017.
© Commonwealth of Australia. Department of Human Services – Reciprocal health care agreements. Updated May 2018.
Australian Government: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Consular Services Charter. Published on Smartraveller.gov.au
Australian Government: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – New Zealand. Published on Smartraveller.gov.au.
Australian Government: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Earthquakes. Published on Smartraveller.com.au