How to get a COVID-19 test

How to get a free RAT or PCR test, where to find a community testing centre or a collection site, and how to report RAT results. Tests detect all COVID-19 variants.

When you should get a test

If you are unwell

If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, get a test as soon as you start to feel unwell. Doing a test and reporting the result means you can get the help you need as early as possible.

Check the list of COVID-19 symptoms

If you are a Household Contact of someone with COVID-19

If you are a Household Contact of someone who has COVID-19, we recommend you do a RAT each day for 5 days.

You are a Household Contact if:

  • you normally live in a house or flat on a permanent or part-time basis, for example, shared custody, with a person who has tested positive, and
  • you spent at least 1 night or day (more than 8 hours) in that residence while the person was infectious.

You are also a Household Contact if you do not normally share a residence with the person who has COVID-19, but spent a night together in the same room.

For people travelling or holidaying around New Zealand, Household Contacts include people who share non-communal holiday accommodation such as a hotel room, tent, campervan, or temporary holiday home such as a bach or AirBNB.

Types of tests

Two types of COVID-19 tests are available to the general public in New Zealand.

  • Rapid antigen tests (RATs): RATs are the main testing method for people with COVID-19 symptoms or who are Household Contacts. Results take up to 20 minutes. RATs detect all COVID-19 variants.
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests: PCRs are used in some situations. Results take 2 to 5 days. 

A health professional can advise you on the right test to take in your situation.

How COVID-19 testing works

Where to get a test

You are allowed to leave your home to get a COVID-19 test while you are isolating. We recommend keeping some RATs at home for testing if you or anyone in your household develops symptoms.

Access free RAT home testing kits

RATs will remain free until 29 February 2024.

You can continue to pick up free RATs for yourself and household members from participating pharmacies and RAT collection centres.

Find a collection centre near you: COVID-19 testing | Healthpoint (external link)

Get a test from your doctor

Your doctor may offer COVID-19 tests. Call them to find out and follow their advice. There may be a charge for some people.

All remaining free COVID-19 testing sites will close by 30 November 2023.

If you need help to get RATs

If you live rurally, have a disability, are immunocompromised or experience some other difficulty getting RATs, you may be eligible for additional help, including delivery if necessary.

To find out if you are eligible, call 0800 222 478.

How to use a RAT

There are different brands of rapid antigen tests (RATs). While the instructions are similar for each, make sure to check the instructions in your kit.

How to use a RAT

How to dispose of RATs

You should dispose of your used RATs, and expired RATs that you can no longer use. 

Dispose of your test

How to report your RAT results

Whether positive or negative, you should report the results of your RAT. Reporting the result means you can get the help you need as early as possible.

You will receive a text confirmation from either 2328 or 2648 with information about isolation and useful advice.

How to report your RAT result

Getting your PCR test results

After a PCR test, it is recommended you isolate until you receive a negative result.

You will get your results in a text message from either 2328 or 2648. It will take 2 to 5 days.

If you test positive, the text message will provide information about isolation and useful advice.

It is recommended you isolate for at least 5 days, even if you only have mild symptoms.

The first day of your isolation is Day 0, which is the day your symptoms started or when you first tested positive, whichever came first.

If you still feel unwell after you have completed 5 days of isolation, we recommend you stay at home until you are recovered.

If you have COVID-19

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