New Zealand's comprehensive healthcare system means getting seen by a doctor is usually easy (unless you live in a small town or somewhere very remote), and healthcare is quite affordable.
New Zealand residents and some work visa holders benefit from a public health system that is free or low cost, thanks to heavy government subsidies, non-residents can also use healthcare services at a cost, and should get medical insurance from their home country.
Visiting a doctor or nurse
Once you arrive in Southland, it is important you enrol or register with a local medical centre.
Doctors (or GPs as they are known in New Zealand) operate out of medical centres throughout Southland and are your first point of contact for medical issues. To find a doctor and medical centre in your area, check out WellSouth for more information.
If you are a New Zealand citizen or resident (this includes people from the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau), you are eligible for the full range of publicly funded health and disability services.
This is also generally the case if you hold:
- a residence class visa
- a work visa that allows you to stay in New Zealand for at least two consecutive years, or
- you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident staying in New Zealand for two years or more.
International students are not eligible for the full range of publicly funded health and disability services, it is still useful to register with a doctor as a non-enrolled patient at that general practice so you can access support and information.
- Southland Hospital, located in Invercargill, is a publicly funded hospital offering a range of services including an emergency department, maternity facilities, and specialist and rehabilitation services.
- Gore Hospital is a rural hospital providing emergency, maternity, and inpatient and rehabilitation services.
- Southern Cross Hospital is Invercargill's only private surgical hospital. There is no emergency department and walk-ins are not accepted, prospective patients are referred to Southern Cross Hospital by their GP.
If you have had an accident or require immediate medical assistance you can contact an ambulance by calling 111.
You can also call Healthline on 0800 611 116 and speak to a registered nurse to decide whether you need to see a doctor or go to hospital. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
New Zealand has an accident compensation scheme known as ACC. Everyone in New Zealand is covered by ACC if they're injured in an accident, including non-residents.
ACC provides helps pay for costs towards treatment and recovery. Whether you were injured playing rugby or in a workplace accident, it is important you contact a medical professional (such as your GP or physiotherapist) as soon as possible so they can lodge your ACC claim.