Explore Travel Insurance

Fancy a spot of adventure? New Zealand is always a favourite for Australian travellers. From bungee jumping in Queenstown to sipping on delicious Kiwi coffee in Wellington, the opportunities are endless.

Did you know that more than 1.4 million Australians travelled across the Tasman in 2018-19, before the COVID-19 pandemic caused border closures¹. So while it’s Australia’s number one overseas destination, it’s advised to have some level of cover when you travel to New Zealand.

Whether you’re planning a single trip to our nearest neighbours or have other travel plans, travel insurance cover can be a great necessity.

Do I need travel insurance for New Zealand?

International travel insurance is a smart idea, no matter where in the world you’re travelling. In 2019-20, 4,155 passports were lost or stolen abroad. Of these, 104 passports were reported lost in New Zealand.2

Unfortunately, around 1 in 1,000 Aussies typically need assistance from the Australian Government abroad to help with accidents, medical care and crime.2

While this is still proportionately relatively low, it’s still better to be prepared.

Many things can go wrong on your trip that international travel insurance can help you with. For example, you might injure yourself out on a ski piste or require emergency assistance while partaking in other adventure activities.

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) and policy wording to determine what is and isn’t covered.

Unforeseen medical expenses

Australians have access to subsidised healthcare in New Zealand if they incur medical costs for essential treatment, thanks to the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA). Simply show your Australian passport and Medicare card.

However, this agreement doesn’t 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, a travel 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. However, 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).

two people in new zealand with travel insurance walking through Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

Guilt-free adventuring

While you’re in New Zealand, you may want to try bungee jumping off an Auckland tower or ride the world’s biggest swing near Queenstown. Perhaps you’ll try your hand at white water rafting or attempt some mountain climbing. Whatever the thrill, you’ll need to ensure your travel insurance policy covers the activities on your itinerary. Many policies offer optional coverage for adventure sports that you can add to your policy (for an additional premium).

New Zealand is skiing and snowboarding nirvana. If you go at the right time of the year, you can spend days in the mountains, skiing or snowboarding. However, these sports can be considered somewhat risky, so insurers usually highlight these in their policies, where some may outright exclude it from coverage. Because of this, you’ll need to be sure that your insurer does cover this activity – several insurers offer it as an extra feature you need to pay for. Find out more about skiers insurance.

If you’re unsure whether your policy will cover your activities, check your PDS or call your 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 (usually up to a limit). Keep in mind there are circumstances where you’ll be unable to claim; for example, if you leave your luggage unattended when it gets 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.3

Vehicle mishaps

New Zealand is blessed with some truly outstanding scenery across the North and South islands which makes for a great scenic drive. Hiring a rental vehicle is a popular option for tourists wishing to explore as much of the country as possible. If you’re in an accident and have to pay an excess to your rental vehicle company, your travel insurer may cover the excess payment. However, this will depend on the circumstances and your level of cover.

Can you drive in New Zealand with an Australian licence?

You can usually drive in New Zealand with an Australian licence for your first 12 months in the country. After that, you’ll need to apply for a New Zealand licence.4 Conditions may apply, so make sure to check this before you go.

Take care when driving on 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.

Learn more about international drivers licences.

Travel delays or cancellations

If your airline cancels or delays your flight and you miss a bunch of tours, you’d usually be out of pocket with no recourse for getting your money back. Provided your delay was out of your control, your insurer may be able to cover those costs for you. This will only be up to a certain value and only if your airline hasn’t already reimbursed you.

If you have to cut your trip short, you may be covered for losses you incur, such as cancellation fees or lost deposits. The main reasons an insurer will consider this will be if you or a close family member develops a serious medical condition or your business or home in Australia has been seriously damaged or destroyed.

Natural disasters

New Zealand experiences 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. The country experiences earthquakes every year, while the entire coastline is at risk of a tsunami.5

Volcanic eruptions can also be a risk in New Zealand. Major volcanos include Mount Ruapehu, Mount Tongariro and Whakaari (White Island), which erupted in December 2019.5

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 run into issues abroad because of the weather or natural disasters, your policy may pay for medical expenses and lost luggage. 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 for updated travel advice and make sure there aren’t any current travel warnings for the region you plan to travel to.

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New Zealand travel insurance exclusions: what to watch out for

Travel insurance for New Zealand won’t cover you for every scenario. Each travel insurance provider will have their own list of exclusions, which you can find in your PDS or policy schedule. However, here are a few common exclusions that can catch you out:

  • injuries resulting from an incident where you were under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
  • travelling to a country with an active travel warning; you should periodically check Smartraveller for these warnings
  • injuries resulting from extreme or winter sports, like skiing and snowboarding (unless you have adequate protection for this in your selected policy)
  • if you didn’t have the correct licence for the vehicle you were driving
  • injuries resulting from a failure to wear proper, protective headgear (like a helmet when riding a scooter)
  • pre-existing conditions

What should my travel insurance policy for New Zealand include?

As we mentioned above, extreme and winter sports may not be automatically included in travel insurance policies. However, you may find that some insurers 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. Many travel insurers include coverage for your kids under your policy (provided they’re under a certain age) – just let your insurer know they’re coming with you.

If they’re travelling by themselves, 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 to begin the claim. You may need to provide your insurer with a copy of any relevant documents such as a police report or medical bills 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 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, as well as the 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.5 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 criminal convictions or haven’t been deported from any country, you can visit New Zealand without a visa or permit.5However, if you’re an Australian permanent resident (i.e. don’t have an Australian passport), you’ll need to apply for a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority to enter the country.
  3. You need more than a driver’s licence to purchase alcohol
    Unfortunately, an Australian driver’s licence isn’t an acceptable identification by New Zealand law.5 If you want a cheeky drink across the Tasman, you’ll need to provide your passport or a current New Zealand driver licence.
  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.

Stephen Zeller, General Manager

Travel insurance tips for New Zealand from our travel expert, Stephen Zeller

  1. Consider choosing a policy with a higher excess to save on the premium.
  2. Always disclose any pre-existing medical conditions you may have to your insurer, to avoid delays or issues if you need to make a claim.
  3. If you’re hiring a car, ensure your policy has adequate cover for the rental vehicle excess, in case you’re involved in an accident.
  4. Leave a copy of your passport and travel insurance certificate of insurance with a relative or friend in Australia in case you need them to assist you.

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 travel insurance policies. Don’t worry; we’ll help you do just that in minutes with our simple travel insurance comparison service.

Sources

  1. Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – ‘Consular State of Play 2018-19’ – Accessed 06/10/2021
  2. Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – ‘Consular State of Play 2019–20’ – Accessed 06/10/2021
  3. Smartraveller.gov.au – ‘Consular Services Charter’ – Accessed 06/10/2021
  4.  NZ Transport Agency – ‘Extension of overseas driver licences’ – Accessed 06/10/2021
  5. Smartraveller.gov.au – ‘New Zealand’ – Accessed 06/10/2021

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