What if I have an accident while I’m on holiday in New Zealand?

Accident and Doctors international symbol sitting over beautiful photo of NZ

New Zealand has excellent medical facilities and public hospitals offering a high standard of care. As part of the New Zealand health system free medical care is provided for injuries caused by an accident. This care is provided for anyone travelling or holiday in New Zealand as well as all New Zealanders. So if you have an accident causing injury while holidaying in New Zealand you will be well cared for.

What is Accident Compensation Cover? (ACC)

Medical care for injuries caused by an accident in New Zealand is covered under a scheme called Accident Compensation Cover, commonly known as ACC. It is free and is a ‘no-fault’ scheme. So unlike countries like the United States of America, you cannot sue someone if they have caused you injury in an accident.

The scheme is funded through levies on things such as petrol and motor vehicle registration,  as well as employers contributions and tax.

What is covered by ACC?

If you have an accident while holidaying in New Zealand, whether it is a car accident, you slip and break your arm, trip and knock a couple of teeth out after a few too many beers, your medical expenses will be covered. 

This includes an ambulance or helicopter to take you from the scene of the accident to the hospital or medical facility. It will also cover medical care, operations, medicine administered, hospital stays and follow-up care in New Zealand. It effectively operates like a health insurance scheme in other countries.

What does ACC not cover?

Your injury must be caused by an accident. Illnesses, conditions caused by aging and emotional issues are not covered. For example, if you are in New Zealand and need to get your appendicitis removed, you get a gastro- bug that requires hospitalisation, you get severe sunburn, have a heart attack or your back ache flares up and you need to see a physiotherapist, you are not covered by ACC.

Why you still need travel insurance when on holiday in New Zealand?

You still need travel insurance to cover illnesses that are not related to injury. You also need travel cover for disrupted travel plans or emergency travel if you need to get back home quickly. 

You are also not covered for injuries while in transit to or from New Zealand.  This includes getting on or off a boat or plane or having an injury if you are traveling around New Zealand in the boat you arrived in, such as a cruise ship. Read our page on Personal Travel Insurance when traveling in New Zealand.

What to do if you have an accident?

If you have an accident that requires medical treatment while in New Zealand, the first thing to do is seek medical attention. Once you have been attended to you will be given an ACC claim form to fill in. The doctor will give you a copy and will send a copy to ACC.  Remember to fill out your home address details and phone number in case ACC need to contact you once you have left New Zealand.

In New Zealand we are proud of our medical care, but sometimes for all sorts of reasons hospitals can be overtaxed when patient numbers run high. You will be treated accordingly, depending on the severity of your injury. 

For less urgent cases there can be a considerable waiting time if you are in the Accident and Emergency department of a hospital. This why for less critical injuries it may be better to go to White Cross Healthcare Clinic or a similar primary care provider. If you are unsure, seek the advice of a local.

There are private hospitals in New Zealand which generally offer a higher standard of accommodation with private rooms as opposed to wards with up to six beds, however, most do not offer acute care required after an accident. However, for surgery required after an accident it is possible in some instances to go to a private hospital and ACC will cover up to 80 percent of the cost.

 So remember, while you are in New Zealand you have medical cover for accidents, but you are not covered for illness so ensure you have adequate travel insurance, that is inclusive of medical illness, disrupted travel plans and personal effects.

Contacting Emergency Services 

Emergency Services - Dial 111

A critical incident or situation where the safety of people or property is at risk e.g. a fire, a crime in progress or a medical crisis - such as someone having a heart attack – Don’t hesitate to call 111 this number will get you through to the Police, Fire brigade and Ambulance.

The Scuba Diver Emergency Service

Divers Alert Network: This is a 24 hours 7 days a week Diver Emergency Service for advice and treatment of all diving related incidents, accidents or injuries, including the emergency management of Decompression Sickness. If you don't feel well or if you are in pain after diving Call 0800 4 DES 111 (0800 4 337 111) toll free if you have any concerns

What to do if I have a car accident?

Your first concern if you are involved in a car accident is your own personal well-being. If you do happen to be involved in an accident, you should do the following:

  • First of all check to see if anyone is injured. If emergency assistance is required, dial 111 for an ambulance.
  • If after the accident (minor or otherwise) you are not comfortable driving the vehicle, call Roadside Assistance (this service is provided with all of our car hire packages). Notify the car hire company.
  • Do not leave the vehicle without making sure it is safe.
  • Write down names and addresses of all people involved (including any witnesses).
  • Never admit liability. You may be in shock, and there is a huge range of factors that can contribute to an accident.

What should I do if I've been involved in a minor car crash? – The Law.

After a non-injury crash you should swap names and addresses with other motorists involved. If the crash involved another person's property, such as a fence, you should report it to the owner of the property within 48 hours of the crash. If the owner cannot be located report to police within 60 hours of the crash.

All crashes resulting in injury (such as broken bones or a night in hospital) should be reported to local police as soon as is practicable and no later than 24 hours from the time of the crash.

24-Hour Assistance - We’re there when you need us!

First Light Travel provides free phone support for guests travelling in New Zealand. If something untoward happens to you, our support crew will jump to action and work quickly and efficiently to resolve issues. We are based here in New Zealand, so support happens in real time, no delay waiting for an agent based out of New Zealand to wake up. But don’t take our word for it, Hear what hundreds of Travelers say about our service.

Since 2001 we’ve been helping visitors plan their dream New Zealand holiday. We aim to make visiting our beautiful land effortless. Let our expert holiday planners put together an itinerary for you, no obligation FREE of charge, or get some friendly advice on what small group tour would suit - Just follow the link and answer a few brief questions

Pricing terms

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