New Zealand Travel Insurance Guide

Travel insurance can provide cover for many of the unexpected situations you might experience on holiday in New Zealand. This guide covers the different benefits and exclusions to look for in a policy, and answers some frequently asked questions about travel insurance.

New Zealand is a popular destination for Australian travellers of all ages and traveller types.

With beautiful scenery, friendly locals, a fantastic snow season and numerous nature trails, the country seems to offer something for everyone. And, considering how long it can usually take to fly to any destinations overseas from Australia, New Zealand is relatively close by!

But don’t think just because New Zealand is our neighbour that you’ll automatically be covered for unexpected emergencies. Travelling to New Zealand is still travelling overseas, which is why you should consider getting travel insurance.

In this guide we've answered some of the most frequently asked questions about comparing and purchasing travel insurance for New Zealand. The guide covers who can get a policy and what benefits to consider in a policy, plus some of the exclusions you should be aware of.

If you have a question about travel insurance before you travel to New Zealand, you’ll likely find your answer here!

What is New Zealand travel insurance?

According to DFAT, if you can't afford travel insurance you can't afford to travel.

It doesn't matter if you're travelling to the other side of the globe or just popping over to visit our Kiwi neighbours, travel insurance should be at the top of every Australian's travel checklist.

There are many different types of travel insurance policies, and the benefits and limits they offer can vary widely, but purchasing travel insurance for New Zealand is generally the same as for any other international travel destination.

A few examples of overseas emergencies a travel insurer can help with:

  • Arranging and covering the costs of an emergency evacuation that results from you becoming injured, such as severely injuring yourself after falling while skiing or snowboarding.
  • Providing cover for your lost deposits if you’re unexpectedly forced to cancel your cruise or other plans in New Zealand before your trip.
  • Organising for a relative to travel to your location if you’re admitted to hospital.
  • Helping you arrange a new passport if yours is lost or stolen while travelling.
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Can I get New Zealand travel insurance?

Some travel insurance companies may apply restrictions to their policies which exclude individuals from cover. However, travel insurance companies vary in their benefits and exclusions, so by comparing a few policies you’ll generally be able to find the right policy for you.

Exclusions you may come across while searching for travel insurance include:

Age restrictions - Some travel insurance policies do not provide cover for travellers over a certain age. This can affect senior travellers over the age of 70.

Pre-existing medical conditions - While travel insurance may automatically cover a range of pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes or pregnancy up to a certain number of weeks, other conditions may also be excluded. Conditions that are generally excluded include cardiac conditions and cancer. You can check whether you may add on cover for conditions that aren’t automatically covered, as a few companies can offer this.

Activities exclusions - It’s especially important for people planning adventurous holidays in New Zealand to check their cover for adventure activities and sports. Not all activities are automatically covered and if you’re injured doing something that isn’t covered, you’ll have to foot the medical bill. Activities such as paragliding, skiing and snowboarding may not be automatically covered.

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Will the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement cover me?

Australia has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with New Zealand, which means that citizens or permanent residents of Australia who are covered by Medicare will have access to some medical services in New Zealand.

Australians can receive treatment that is clinically necessary for diagnosis, alleviation or care of a condition requiring attention. This includes pharmaceutical benefits, hospital services and maternity services.

However, you will not be entitled to:

  • Ambulance cover (emergency and non-emergency)
  • Dental care costs
  • Free or subsidised care from a general practitioner except for pharmaceutical benefits
  • Treatment that isn’t immediately necessary
  • Medical evacuation to Australia
  • Funerals
  • Treatment and accommodation in private hospitals, or as a private patient in a public hospital
  • Treatment that has been prearranged before arrival

That’s why getting cover with travel insurance is still a good idea! Medical evacuation alone can cost thousands of dollars.

To prove your eligibility for health care while in New Zealand, you’ll need:

  • Your passport which shows you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • A valid Medicare card
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Which travel insurance benefits should I consider?

The travel insurance benefits you can receive for your trip to New Zealand will vary between insurers and the level of cover you select. 

Remember to always read the insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for full policy benefits and conditions.

Generally, you may wish to keep an eye out for these key benefits:

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Overseas Emergency Medical Cover

This benefit provides cover for the unexpected overseas emergency expenses you may have if you become sick or injured in New Zealand.

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Cancellation Cover

Something can go wrong before you travel which forces you to cancel your trip. A relative may suddenly become sick or injured, or you might become sick or injured. Cancellation cover allows you to claim for lost deposits including flight costs, cruise tickets, accommodation and prepaid tours.

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Luggage Cover

If you’re taking your laptop, phone or camera you’ll want to make sure they’re covered along with the rest of your luggage in case it gets lost, stolen or damaged during your trip.

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Cover for Snow Sports or Adventure Activities

New Zealand offers great skiing and snowboarding, as well as a huge variety of activities such as whitewater rafting, kayaking, sailing and bungee jumping. Travel insurance may automatically cover some activities, while for others you may need to pay an additional premium to be covered.

Can I get cover for adventure activities?

New Zealand is a popular holiday destination for adrenaline junkies and offers some of the best outdoor activities and extreme sports in the world.

Examples of adventure activities you might be considering trying on your New Zealand holiday include:

  • Caving
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Zorbing
  • Kayaking
  • Bungee jumping
  • Canyon swinging
  • Fishing
  • Go-karting
  • Golf
  • Horse riding
  • Skydiving
  • Hang gliding
  • Quad biking
  • Walking, hiking and trekking
  • Whitewater rafting

Depending on your travel insurance provider and the type of policy you select, some adventure activities may be automatically covered. You may also be able to add on extra cover for more risky activities, such as with our Adventure Pack.

Always refer to the Product Disclosure Statement to find out which activities may or may not be covered.

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Will I need extra cover for skiing and snowboarding?

Skiing and snowboarding are generally not automatically included in a standard travel insurance policy.

You will need to select a specific type of policy like our Snow Sports Plus policy, or add on cover for these activities while you’re purchasing the policy. If you’re buying a policy online you’ll generally be prompted to declare whether you’ll need cover for snow sports.

Cover for skiing and snowboarding can provide cover for:

  • Emergency medical expenses resulting from a fall on the slopes
  • Emergency transport from the ski fields to hospital
  • Your ski equipment if it gets lost, stolen or damaged
  • Piste closure so you may be compensated if bad weather prevents you from hitting the slopes
  • Your ski package so that you won’t be out of pocket if you can’t use your pre-bought ski package due to sickness or injury
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When is the best time to purchase travel insurance for New Zealand?

Generally, the best time to purchase travel insurance is soon after you’ve paid deposits towards your trip. This is because you can get cover for cancellation in your travel insurance policy.

Cancellation cover (if included in the policy you purchase) is a benefit that is in place the moment your travel insurance policy is issued. Once you have cancellation cover, you can be confident that if something unexpected happens which forces you to cancel your trip, you have cover in place so you can be compensated for lost deposits.

The types of deposits that can be covered under the cancellation benefit include:

  • Cruise tickets
  • Flights
  • Tours
  • Accommodation
  • Ski packages
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Can I get cover for pre-existing medical conditions?

For the purposes of travel insurance, a 'pre-existing medical condition' is defined as any of the following at the time of purchase:

  • An ongoing medical or dental condition of which you are aware, or related complication you have, or the symptoms of which you are aware
  • A medical or dental condition that is currently being, or has been investigated, or treated by a health professional (including dentist or chiropractor) at any time in the past
  • Any condition for which you take prescribed medicine
  • Any condition for which you have had surgery
  • Any condition for which you see a medical specialist
  • Pregnancy

Depending on your travel insurance provider, your policy may automatically provide cover for common pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or osteoporosis.

Keep in mind that age limits and/or other restrictions may apply for some medical conditions such as if you've had any changes to prescription medication or been hospitalised for that condition within a specified timeframe.

Some pre-existing medical conditions may not be automatically covered by your travel insurance policy. Depending on the travel insurer, you may be given the option of adding cover by paying an extra premium or it may be excluded from cover.

Remember to read the Product Disclosure Statement carefully, and always ask if you're unsure whether your pre-existing condition is covered or not before you purchase a policy.

Can I get cover for a babymoon in New Zealand?

New Zealand is a great location for a babymoon! It's close by, has a temperate climate, offers scenic landscapes where you can relax, and has high quality medical care available.

Generally, some travel insurers may cover pregnancy up to a certain number of weeks as a pre-existing medical condition, unless:

  • Your doctor has advised you NOT to travel
  • You’ve experienced complications with the pregnancy
  • Your trip extends beyond the number of weeks of pregnancy your travel insurer provides cover for (limits vary from about 20 weeks pregnant to a maximum of 34 weeks pregnant)
  • The pregnancy is a result of assisted reproductive programs such as IVF
  • You are travelling to obtain fertility treatment
  • You’re having a multiple birth

Cover for pregnancy can provide cover for unexpected medical complications, such as experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum requiring hospitalisation.

However, there are also some pregnancy complications that are excluded from various travel insurance policies. See our Pregnancy Travel Insurance Guide for more information about travel insurance for pregnancy.

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Can I get cover for natural disasters?

New Zealand is prone to experience some natural disasters, in particular earthquakes. One of the most notorious was a 6.3 magnitude earthquake which struck Christchurch on the south island in 2011.

If you’re in New Zealand when a natural disaster strikes, your travel insurance can provide some cover. Various policies will include cover for additional expenses if your return home is delayed, such as extra nights of accommodation and food. Your medical cover will also come into play if you are injured during a natural disaster.

If you haven’t yet travelled and your flights to New Zealand are cancelled (rather than rescheduled) then you may also be able to claim for your lost deposits with the cancellation benefit.

However, you should be aware that you may not have cover for a natural disaster if you buy the policy after the disaster is a 'known event' and cancellations or travel delays are likely. A known event is an event which is present across mainstream media (television, radio, newspapers and online news platforms), which your travel insurer has issued a warning about and which Smartraveller has identified.

Generally, if you’re aware that an event is likely to interrupt your travel plans and then buy a policy, it’s unlikely you’ll have cover for that event.   

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What travel insurance exclusions should I be aware of?

If something is excluded, that means you will not have cover for unexpected expenses. Different travel insurance policies will have different exclusions, so be sure to read through your Policy Disclosure Statement to understand these exclusions.

There are some common exclusions you should be aware of, including:

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If you are intoxicated

Accidents resulting from excessive alcohol consumption may not be covered. This includes injuries such as broken bones which are the result of you acting irresponsibly and not taking due care.

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If you leave your belongings unsupervised in public

If you leave your luggage or personal belongings somewhere in public, such as in a taxi, or on a beach or a park bench while you go to the bathroom, your travel insurance policy is unlikely to provide cover if they get stolen.

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Illegal activities

This includes taking illicit drugs (and any injury you might sustain as a result of your compromised behaviour) and driving a motorcycle or car without a valid licence.

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Travelling against official advice

If a doctor has told you not to travel due to a particular medical condition, or the Australian Government has issued a 'Reconsider Your Need to Travel' or 'Do Not Travel' alert for New Zealand on Smartraveller, you may not have complete cover with your travel insurance policy.

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Changing your mind

Not every travel insurance policy provides cover for ‘cancellation for any reason’. If you simply decide not to travel anymore, you may not be able to get a refund on your travel insurance policy.

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Claiming for something that isn’t covered

If a medical condition, event or activity is not explicitly covered by your travel insurance provider, it's unlikely you'll be able to claim for any expenses related to it. See our FAQ section on 'General Exclusions' for some examples of things which are generally not covered.

How can I get the best deal on travel insurance for New Zealand?

There are a couple of tricks you can use if you’re going to New Zealand to get a good deal on travel insurance.

1) Buy travel insurance together

Travel insurance for two people travelling together, or for a group, can work out to be cheaper than single policies for each person. Compare the price of getting a duo policy or contact your travel insurer about a group quote.

2) Buy before your next birthday

Age comes into play in calculating the cost of your travel insurance policy. That means it might be cheaper to buy travel insurance before your next birthday. You can purchase a policy up to a year in advance, so start investigating prices as soon as you’ve decided on your holiday.

3) Become a loyal customer

Travel insurance companies may offer discounts to their returning customers. It doesn’t hurt to ask for a discount!

To get the best tips to help you save money on travel insurance, check out ‘20 Ways you can Save on Travel Insurance’ for more tips that will help you save money on travel insurance.

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What do I do in an emergency?

  1. Seek assistance immediately – you might need to see a doctor, go to hospital or go to the police station to report a theft. Whatever assistance you need, don’t put it off. It’s better to get the help you need as soon as possible than to put it off because you’re worried about potential expenses.
  2. Contact your travel insurer as soon as you can – you’ll be able to get in contact with the emergency assistance team over the phone at any time, wherever you are in New Zealand. If you’re in an emergency situation, update the emergency assistance team so that they’re able to provide you with advice and arrange any services you may need.
  3. If required, you can also get in contact with the Australian embassy in New Zealand.
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