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Public healthcare

Healthcare in New Zealand is public and very efficient. Doctor’s visits are significantly subsidized by the state and hospitals are free. You will hear amazing stories from South Africans of how they have been cared for by helpful doctors and nurses and treated efficiently and with care in cases of emergency. 

Getting seen by a doctor is easy (unless you live in a small town or somewhere very remote). Public healthcare is free or low cost if you hold a work visa valid for two years or more, are a citizen, or a resident. You also have the option of taking medical insurance for private healthcare, although many New Zealanders choose not to.

If you are not a resident, you can still use our healthcare services but at a cost. You should get medical insurance from your home country before you travel here.

Dental services are an exception and need to be paid for privately.  Children up to 18 years of age are treated for free. It is therefore a good idea to have a dental check and dental work done before you leave for New Zealand as the service in New Zealand is more expensive.

Many prescribed medications are subsidised and, in most cases you will only have to pay $5 per item. Children below 14 year of age receive medications for free. 

When you arrive in New Zealand it is advisable to register with a GP practice. You will often be able to get preferential rates at the doctor you are registered with. Most of the practices also treat patients below 14 years of age for free. 

Private healthcare and dental costs

Private health insurance is still available in New Zealand. However it only compensates for 5% of health insurance. Nonprofit and for profit non-government organizations offer private health insurance, which is mainly used for elective surgery or to cover cost sharing requirements.

The dental costs in New Zealand are high. When you visit a GP in New Zealand and pay your standard, up-front cost of a visit, the amount you’re paying is heavily subsidised by the Government. Unfortunately, oral healthcare, for the most part, does not receive any public funding and therefore the upfront costs to the patient are far higher comparatively.

In fact, the best estimate is that $1.8 billion is spent on dentist visits each year in New Zealand. And almost all of it, $1.6 billion, comes directly from patient’s pockets.

Below are the average costs of dental treatment in New Zealand:

Dental Procedure


Check up with x-rays $95 – $150
Check up with Scale/Polish $85 – $120
Amalgam filling (molar) $110 – $165
Composite filling (molar) $130 – $185
Extraction $170 – $220
Porcelain Veneer $900 – $1,300
Composite Crown $280 – $500
Porcelain Crown $1,200 – $1,400
Molar Root Filling $900 – $1,200
Single Tooth Implant $2,500 – $3,000

Source: https://www.enz.org/dental-costs-in-new-zealand.html