Obviously none of us want to have to visit a doctor during our travels but when you spend the majority of your life in different countries you will eventually need to see a doctor. For good or bad we had the opportunity to see several doctors while in New Zealand. Here are the doctors and clinics in Whangerie that we saw and recommend.
First things first. If you are not a New Zealand citizen getting medical attention is not as easy as looking for a general practitioner, making an appointment and paying them cash. We found this out rather quickly after Jilly fell in the marina showers and fractured several vertebrae. As a non-citizen you have two options. You can visit a local emergency clinic or you can go to the hospital. We chose the clinic. White Cross in Whangerie. There are definitely limits to what they can do for you but we found them eager to go above and beyond to help cruisers as they understand our unique set of circumstances.
Finding The Right Doctors
Jilly needed to find out why her vertebrae fractured so easily which meant testing, bloodwork etc… Typically White Cross would be unable to assist and would refer their patient to a General Practitioner, however, as non-citizens here that isn’t an option so White Cross jumped in and found way to arrange for all of the tests and interpret the results. When it was determined that Jilly has Osteoporosis, they even wrote the prescription that will get us through for a year until we can hopefully get back to the states.
If you need to see a specialist you need to be referred and the clinics can help with this as well. Of course you’ll pay for a visit to the clinic but it’s not very expensive. A non-accident visit at White Cross ran around $100 NZD.
How Much Does Medical Care Cost?
If you’re from the states you will find that medical care here is really inexpensive but the care is still excellent. Jilly had a battery of bloodwork tests completed (19 tests) and the cost came out to just of $200 USD. After looking up these tests and their associated costs we found that the same tests would have run anywhere from $5000-$8000 USD there. Needless to say we were delighted to get the testing done here.
Office visits for the clinic ran us anywhere from $80-$120 NZD depending upon what we were there to have done. If it’s a basic visit to get prescription refills for an ongoing medical issue or maintenance meds then you can expect it to be on the lower end. If it’s more extensive, expect to pay a bit more.
In New Zealand if you have an accident it is filed under an ACC claim even if you are not a New Zealand citizen. What does this mean to you? Well, it means almost all of the treatments you receive as a result of the accident are free to you. We say, “almost all” because we did have to pay $25 NZD each time X-rays were required. We also paid for the bloodwork as we discussed above and we paid a minimal cost for prescriptions. In fact we’ve done the math. After her fall in the shower
X-rays, and Jilly had several sets, ran $25 NZD a set under the ACC claim. She had a bone density scan that was just under $300 NZD and she had an ultra sound on her leg that was $130 NZD. As you can see it was pretty cost effective.
Immigration Medical Exams and Requirements
Our medical exams to extend our visas were substantially more costly as these tests are required by Immigration and, well, we all know what happens when the government gets involved in things like this. The chest x-rays were around $100 NZD, the bloodwork $150 NZD and the office visit was $235 NZD per person.
As a result of these test they required Dan to get a stress test and see a specialist. That was a tad more expensive as well. The stress test was $1400 NZD and the follow up visit with the specialist ran a little over $200 NZD. That said, Dr. Kennedy spent more time with Dan than we’ve ever had a doctor spend with either of us in our entire lives. The man literally spent close to 45 minutes with us during the office visit answering questions and emailing us information. We’d say we definitely got our money’s worth.
All in all we feel like we’ve received excellent care here in New Zealand and really didn’t spend a whole lot of money either. Of course if you’re from a country where all of your medical is free then spending any money may seem like a lot but for Americans in particular, you’ll find the prices are just right!
One interesting note you’ll find here is that the doctors are rather casual. They introduce themselves by their first name and don’t expect you to call them doctor. Of course for us that is a bit odd and we feel using their title shows the respect they deserve for the position so we used the title. Whether you do or don’t you’re sure to find them all very helpful and personable.
These are the clinics and doctors we visited and recommend. Click on the button to be directed to their official websites for more information.
Dan injured his shoulder while we were here and needed to see a surgeon. While he decided to wait until we get back to the States to get the surgery we found Dr. Ratahi to be an excellent doctor. He’s thorough, helpful and just an all around great man.