Moving to New Zealand

New Zealand health insurance for non-residents

Moving to New Zealand? Welcome!

New Zealand is high on many travellers, ex-pats, and immigrants’ lists of places to move to, offering a unique lifestyle with a healthy work-life balance.

As a non-resident, traveller, or immigrant to New Zealand, you may need private health insurance to help you access and cover the cost of health and medical treatment. Private health insurance complements public healthcare services, helping you access treatment faster by skipping public hospital waiting lists.

This means you can get back to living life in New Zealand to its fullest, quicker.

Do non-residents need private health insurance in New Zealand?

New Zealand has a great public healthcare system which offers New Zealand residents healthcare and medical treatment for a low fee or for free. However, it is a requirement of some visas that you have private health insurance. Check out the government’s Health New Zealand website for information on your unique situation.

Many New Zealanders and those eligible for New Zealand’s public healthcare choose to take out private health insurance, enabling them to access the benefits of private healthcare.

You can apply for Southern Cross private health insurance if you’re:

  • A New Zealand citizen, or
  • Hold a permanent resident’s visa, or
  • Eligible for publicly funded health services as determined by Health New Zealand.

If you’re moving to New Zealand but don’t meet the criteria above, don’t worry. You may still have private healthcare insurance options. Here at Southern Cross, we also offer:

Health insurance cover for visitors to New Zealand

Health insurance cover for international students

About the New Zealand public healthcare system

New Zealand’s public healthcare system offers New Zealand residents high-quality healthcare for a low fee or for free. Children under the age of 14 years get free healthcare.

If you need emergency medical help or acute care, you’ll receive it from the public healthcare system.

Accidents and injuries are covered by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), a government agency which acts as a no-fault personal injury insurer.

Non-emergency health conditions are classified as ‘elective’ treatments. This means you’ll go through an assessment process to find out if you qualify for treatment, and in most cases, you’ll go on a waiting list to receive treatment. This is why some New Zealanders choose to get private health insurance.

Common elective treatments include hip or knee replacements, heart surgery, hysterectomy, cataract removal, cancerous tumour removal and diagnostic services such as endoscopy, laparoscopy, MRI scans, tonsillectomy, and grommets surgery.

Why do you need private health insurance in New Zealand?

Private healthcare complements the New Zealand public healthcare system. Private health insurance means you can access treatment faster by skipping waiting lists. You’ll also get help with the cost of the treatments.

This means you can get back to enjoying your life in New Zealand to the fullest, sooner. It means less time off work, study or travelling. With private healthcare, there’s less financial stress and more choice over when and from whom you’ll receive your healthcare treatment.

There are several health insurance providers in New Zealand. They offer a range of healthcare plans that could cover day-to-day health expenses like General Practitioner (GP) services and prescriptions through to more major medical expenses like surgical treatments and specialist consultations.

Southern Cross - the largest New Zealand health insurer

We’re New Zealand’s largest and most trusted health insurance provider1, committed to providing over 900,000 New Zealanders with the best possible health care.

Southern Cross Health Insurance has cared for the health of New Zealanders since 1961. New Zealand-owned and not-for-profit, we put your health and wellbeing first.

We’re with you.


1 Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Health Insurance Brand, 2017-2024
2 Terms and conditions apply

Are you with us yet?

Interested in Southern Cross health insurance? Here are three ways to take the next step.