The ambulance service is free and is provided by various organisations depending on the region (e.g. Wellington Free Ambulance in the capital, www.wellingtonfreeambulance.org.nz). In most regions, the ambulance service has paramedic teams and also uses helicopter ambulances. In remote areas, specially trained search-and-rescue teams are available and usually include a doctor who can administer treatment and perform minor operations on the spot.
If you’re physically able, you should make your own way to the accident and emergency department of your nearest hospital. When you move to a new area, it’s wise to find out where your nearest emergency hospital is situated, as a number have closed or merged their accident and emergency departments in recent years, or operate them only part-time. Therefore, while there will always be an accident and emergency facility in your area, not every hospital is equipped to handle emergencies.
If your condition isn’t serious enough to warrant a hospital visit, you should consult your family doctor. In towns and cities there are ‘after-hours’ clinics where you can see a doctor with minor ailments when your doctor’s surgery is closed.
A private company called Accident Info Services provides a telephone information service and advises callers about how to access New Zealand’s health system. It can advise you on local doctors and hospitals or arrange for a doctor to visit you at home, and is particularly useful when medical attention other than immediate hospital treatment is necessary. You can contact Accident Info Services on freephone 0800-263 345 or 09-529 0488.