Moving to practise in New Zealand
Moving to New Zealand to practise medicine is a big decision. Here are some key questions and answers.
Can I register to practise medicine in New Zealand?
We have range of ways in which doctors can qualify for registration in New Zealand. In every case, we must be satisfied that the applicant is qualified, competent and fit to practice.
Our self-assessment checklist is a helpful first step.
How does New Zealand’s healthcare system work?
Policy: the Government develops policy and provides leadership for New Zealand’s healthcare system . The Government’s Minister and Ministry of Health are supported and advised by the National Health Board, Health Workforce New Zealand, and other ministerial advisory committees.
Management & funding: most of the day-to-day management and three quarters of its funding is administered by District Health Boards (DHBs). DHBs plan, manage, provide and purchase health services for the people in their district. This includes primary care, hospital services, public health services, aged-care services, and services provided by other non-government health providers including Māori and Pacific providers.
Medicines: the Government fully or partially pays for most prescription medicines for New Zealanders. The purchase of medicines for the entire health system is administered by PHARMAC , who manage the pharmaceutical budget based on which medicines provide the best health outcomes and value. The Medicines Control team oversees the distribution of medicines and controlled drugs. The team issues licences and authorities, monitors compliance and undertakes drug abuse containment activities.
Who can access healthcare in New Zealand?
Essential healthcare through the public health system is provided free for those who qualify. Free or subsidised healthcare includes hospital treatment, 24-hour accident and emergency, prescriptions, most immunisations, out-patient hospital care, and care for the chronically ill and elderly.
People with private health insurance have the cost of their private healthcare covered. This insurance can also cover the additional cost of healthcare which is partly publicly-funded. In some cases, those with insurance will get treatment sooner if there is a waiting list for publicly-funded treatment.
People cannot sue others for personal injury in New Zealand. Instead, ACC provides no-fault personal injury cover for all residents and visitors to New Zealand.
What should I consider when looking for a job in healthcare?
Both New Zealand’s big cities and rural heartland offer many opportunities for doctors. DHBs are the best place to start looking for short-term (locum) or permanent vacancies. DHBs often advertise these jobs directly on their websites. Alternatively, you can find work through a recruitment agency.
If you are planning to work in New Zealand, or already have a job arranged, you will need a work permit. You will also need to find out about residency if you intend to settle here.
What should I consider before moving to New Zealand?
Leaving friends and family behind and going to a new country is a big move. To make it easier for you to settle into New Zealand life, several government agencies provide helpful information specifically for new migrants:
What is New Zealand’s geography and cultural diversity?
New Zealand is an island nation located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It has two main islands - the North Island (Te Ika-a-Maui) and South Island (Te Waipounamu). The country is sparsely populated compared to many countries, with a population of just 4.8 million.
There is great ethnic diversity in New Zealand. Approximately three quarters of the population are European or ‘pākehā’. 14% are Māori, and Asian and Pacific peoples also make up large groups. English is the primary language spoken but Māori and New Zealand sign language are also official languages.
Many New Zealand place names are in Māori and you will also hear a number of sayings that are unique to New Zealand.
Statistics New Zealand provide the latest figures for population, the economy, labour market, environment and more.
Where should I live in New Zealand?
There are many great places to live in New Zealand’s regions and cities . Rural areas offer a quieter lifestyle in some of the more remote and beautiful parts of the country. If you prefer the excitement of the city, New Zealand’s three biggest are Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Auckland is the largest and most populated city, with 1.5 million residents. Located in the North Island, Auckland is famous for its yachting, beaches and temperate climate. The city is home to many communities and cultures.
Wellington is the nation’s capital and the North Island’s southern-most city. It was described by Lonely Planet Guide in 2011 as the ‘coolest little capital in the world’, with its many museums, theatres, galleries and arts festivals.
Christchurch is New Zealand's second-largest city and known as the gateway to the South Island. Part of Christchurch’s appeal is its proximity to many outdoor activities including skiing, golf, surfing and mountain biking. Since the devastating 2011 earthquake, recovery work is well underway and the city is thriving once more.
What do I need as soon as I arrive in New Zealand?
Here is some useful information to help you and your family settle quickly into day-to-day life: