Get tested for COVID-19

If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, call Healthline, your doctor or iwi health provider. They will tell you if you should get a COVID-19 test.

If you have symptoms this winter

If you have cold or flu symptoms, it’s important to stay home and get a COVID-19 test as soon as possible. You should continue to stay at home until you have received a negative test result.

Who should get a test

If you’re unwell

If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, call:

  • Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453
  • your GP or nurse, or
  • your iwi health provider.

A health professional will let you know the next steps and if you should get a test.

COVID-19 symptoms

Where to get a test

If you need a test, you can get one at:

  • your general practice (GP) — call ahead before you turn up
  • a Community Testing Centre.

Community Testing Centre locations by district health board (external link)

Search for a testing location near you (external link)

Getting tested

Healthline or your doctor will tell you what to do if you need to get tested.

If you have symptoms and get tested, stay home until you have a negative test result.

COVID-19 tests are free

If you're told to get a test, COVID-19 tests are free of charge. This is regardless of your citizenship, immigration status, nationality or level of medical insurance coverage.

You may need to pay for a test if it’s to enter another country.

Getting a pre-departure COVID-19 test

If you're asked to pay for a COVID-19 test, please report it to your district health board or primary health organisation.

You will not have to pay for your care if you test positive.

Personal information

You will need to provide contact details so that you can get your test results.

You do not need to have an NHI number or ID to get tested. But it’s helpful to have your NHI number with you when you get tested.

How to find your NHI number (external link)

You can have a support person

You can ask someone to help you get to your test and be with you during your test.

If you're very unwell and advised by your GP or Healthline that you need to be assessed or tested at a hospital, you can ask someone to help you get there. If you need someone with you at the hospital, you or your support person should call ahead and discuss this with the doctor or nurse at the hospital.

If you do not have a visa

Everyone can get tested — you do not need to be a New Zealand citizen or resident. The test is still free, and you will not have to pay for care if you test positive. But, you may need to pay for a test if it’s to enter another country.

No information will be shared with Immigration New Zealand even if you test positive.

How testing works

If you need to get a test for COVID-19, a sample is taken from you.

There’s more than one way to take a sample. The most common way is to swab the back of your nose. A swab is like a small cotton-bud but with a longer stick.

For some people this is a tickle, others find it a bit uncomfortable.

Help protect healthcare workers when getting tested

If you get a test, we need your help to keep healthcare workers safe. That means continuing to cough and sneeze into your elbow, and staying 2 metres away from other people wherever possible.

Follow any instructions you get, like turning up on time, calling ahead or waiting in your car. 

The people testing you may wear protective equipment likes gowns or face coverings. This is nothing to worry about, it helps protect them and everyone they’re testing.

Assessment and testing for COVID-19 | health.govt.nz (external link)

Getting the results

When you get a test, your health professional will tell you how and when to expect your results. Whether you test negative or positive, you will receive your results.

If you test positive, the Ministry of Health and your local public health unit will call you to discuss your results. They will tell you what to do next.

What to expect if you test positive

Staying home and self-isolation

Staying at home if you’re sick is the best thing you can do to stop any future spread of COVID-19.

If you’re feeling unwell, it’s critical you stay at home and recover.

If you get a COVID-19 test, your health professional will tell you whether you need to self-isolate. If they tell you to self-isolate, you legally must do so immediately.

Self-isolation means staying at home and taking common sense precautions to avoid close contact with those you live with.

Guidance on self-isolation at home (external link)

Testing after vaccination

Even if you have had your vaccination, you should still get tested for COVID-19 if you develop symptoms or if you're subject to regular testing.

The vaccine is highly effective if people have both doses. Studies have shown that 95% of people who received both doses of the vaccine were protected against getting seriously ill. If you do get COVID-19, you're far less likely to fall seriously ill or spread the virus to others.

Research is still ongoing to determine whether a vaccinated person can still pass the virus to someone else. So we must assume there's still risk of transmission.

Getting tested if you work at the border or in managed isolation and quarantine

The Ministry of Health has information on testing for those who work at our ports or managed isolation and quarantine.

Information on getting tested if you work at the border| health.govt.nz (external link)

Testing if you're leaving New Zealand

Some countries need travellers to confirm a negative COVID-19 test before they leave New Zealand. You can check the requirements of the country you're travelling to, by contacting their local high commission, embassy or consulate in New Zealand.

Getting a pre-departure COVID-19 test

Pre-departure testing if you're travelling to New Zealand

If you're travelling to New Zealand, you must have a negative COVID-19 test result before the scheduled departure of your first international flight. Travellers from Antarctica and most Pacific islands do not need to get pre-departure tests..

Travellers from Australia are required to get PCR or RT-PCR tests.

You will need to have had both your COVID-19 sample taken and your result returned no more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure time of your first international departure.

Check the requirements for pre-departure testing for travellers to New Zealand

Testing data in New Zealand

The Ministry of Health publishes data on:

  • current COVID-19 cases
  • COVID-19 case demographics
  • source of COVID-19 cases
  • testing for COVID-19.

This data helps us measure New Zealand’s recovery from COVID-19 and how to continue to respond in the best way. It also helps keep track of who is being tested, including at-risk communities or groups with underlying health conditions.

COVID-19 testing data | health.govt.nz (external link)

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