Even though New Zealand is "just across the ditch", organising comprehensive travel insurance is an essential part of planning your trip. Having adequate travel insurance can minimise the financial impact should you suffer a sudden health issue, an accident or theft, so that you'll be able to focus on recovery or get back to your holiday sooner. It's important to remember that whether you're travelling to New Zealand for a week or a month, "if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel"ii.
Protecting your health and wellbeing while travelling is of the utmost importance, and fortunately New Zealand has a first-rate public health system with free medical treatment and hospital care for accidents and emergenciesiii. Australian citizens and permanent residents can benefit from this health system under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement, which gives Australians access to free public medical treatment in the case of an emergencyiv. However, charges may still apply for visits to GPs and specialists, prescription medications and diagnostic tests, and the agreement does not cover additional accommodation costsiv,v. Having travel insurance is also vital for medical emergency evacuation or repatriation, as the agreement does not cover these costly expenses. It's also important that at least eight weeks before you leave Australia, you visit your doctor to get a general check-up and make sure that all of your routine vaccinations are up-to-datevi.
New Zealand is renowned for adventure sports including whitewater rafting, mountain biking, snowboarding and, of course, bungee jumping. Yet it is the relatively more mainstream activity of skiing that brings flocks of Australians to New Zealand from June to October each year. The South Island boasts nine commercial ski fields with breathtaking scenery and varied runs for beginners to prosvii. However, hundreds of accidents and injuries occur each year on the ski slopes; New Zealand's St John ambulance service in Queenstown received approximately 380 ski area emergency calls during the 2012 seasonviii. Travel insurance can help to cover medical costs as well as the additional costs of accommodation, rescheduling of travel plans, medical evacuations and repatriation should a worst-case scenario occur.
Being covered by comprehensive travel insurance helps you to be prepared for even the most unexpected events that can occur while travelling, like natural disasters. There are a number of major fault lines that run through New Zealandix, which produce 100-150 felt earthquakes each year, often including several magnitude 6 quakesx. The magnitude 6.3 earthquake that occurred in Christchurch in 2011 killed 185 people and injured thousands morexi. Before you leave Australia, check the Smartraveller website for updates and advice on New Zealand earthquakes and aftershocks. In the unfortunate event of an earthquake or natural disaster while you're overseas, Allianz insurance can help cover the costs of medical attention as well as the reasonable additional expenses caused by the rescheduling of travel plans.
There are a range of transport options to explore the North and South Island, including train, bus and car, as well as plane. You can even travel by ferry between Wellington in the North Island and Picton in the South Island, taking in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds and perhaps even catching a glimpse of dolphins, whales or fur sealsxii. Snow and storms can, however, delay flights and other forms of transportation on the South Island: travel insurance can minimise the financial impact of cancelled connections.
A popular way of travelling around New Zealand is by rental car, which you can do if you are over 21 and hold a current Australian drivers licencexiii. It is advised to take extra care on the roads in New Zealand, which can become hazardous with ice, fog, snow and strong winds, particularly in mountainous terrainv. If you are involved in an accident, Allianz Travel Insurance can cover the excess on your rental car as well as your personal liability for the payment of compensation. It is also important to exercise caution and not leave valuables in the car, as the theft of items from parked cars is common, especially in tourist areasxiv. Ensure that you only leave personal items hidden in the boot of your car, do not leave anything in the car overnight, and always carry cash and documents like your passport on your person.
Without travel insurance, suffering an accident abroad can cost you not just your holiday but can also become a major financial burden. The Australian Government strongly recommends that all Australians travelling overseas take out comprehensive travel insuranceii, even if it's "just across the ditch". Whether you experience an unexpected illness or injury, have your flight cancelled due to a little too much snow or you prang the rental car, Allianz Travel Insurance can help. Allianz offers Basic Travel Insurance, Comprehensive Travel Insurance and Multi Trip Travel Insurance for your trip overseas. Get a quote from Allianz today!
i Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013, 3401.0 Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, June 2013, viewed 17 December 2013, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/products/961B6B53B87C130ACA2574030010BD05
ii Smartraveller 2013, Insurance, Australian Government, viewed 17 December 2013, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/tips/insurance.html#basics
iii New Zealand Immigration 2012, Excellent Healthcare, New Zealand Government, viewed 17 December 2013, http://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz/living-in-nz/family-friendly/excellent-healthcare
iv New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Healthcare for Australians in New Zealand, viewed 17 December 2013, http://www.nzembassy.com/australia/relationship-between-nz-and-australia/australians-in-nz/health-care
v Smartraveller 2013, New Zealand, Australian Government, viewed 17 December 2013, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/New_Zealand
vi World Health Organization 2013, International travel and health: Vaccines, viewed 17 December 2013, http://www.who.int/ith/vaccines/en/
vii New Zealand Tourism, Skiing, viewed 17 December 2013, http://www.newzealand.com/au/skiing/
viii Beech 2013, 'New ambulance is 'right up there'', Otago Daily Times, 22 June, viewed 17 December 2013, http://www.odt.co.nz/news/queenstown-lakes/262013/new-ambulance-right-there
ix GNS Science, Major faults in New Zealand, viewed 17 December 2013, http://www.gns.cri.nz/Home/Learning/Science-Topics/Earthquakes/Major-Faults-in-New-Zealand
x GNS Science, New Zealand Earthquakes, viewed 17 December 2013, http://www.gns.cri.nz/Home/Learning/Science-Topics/Earthquakes/New-Zealand-Earthquakes
xi Encylopedia of New Zealand, Story: Historic earthquakes, Government of New Zealand, viewed 17 December 2013, http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/historic-earthquakes/page-13
xii New Zealand Tourism, Ferries & water taxis, viewed 17 December 2013, http://www.newzealand.com/au/ferrieswater-taxis/
xiii New Zealand Tourism, Driving in New Zealand, viewed 17 December 2013, http://www.newzealand.com/au/feature/driving-in-new-zealand/
xiv Lonely Planet 2013, Health and safety, viewed 17 December 2013, http://www.lonelyplanet.com/new-zealand/practical-information/health