News & Features — 21 April 2019 at 9:00 am

The Definitive Junior Doctors’ Guide to Working and Living in New Zealand

Updated article

This article was originally published on 7 Mar 2018, and has since been updated ready for the 2023 application window.

Dr Shona Main / ST4 Emergency Medicine / Wessex

Dr Will Denehan / ST4 Anaesthetics / Wessex

Dr James Truell / F4 / Wellington

For many years now, New Zealand has been an incredibly popular destination for doctors at all stages of their training looking to expand their horizons and experience life and work in another culture and healthcare system. With it’s stunning landscapes, sunny climate, unlimited opportunities to explore the great outdoors, countless wineries (need we go on?!) not to mention the favourable working conditions and pay, it’s easy to see why so many are tempted down under.

Adventure Medic initially teamed up with UK junior doctors Shona Main and Will Denehan in 2018 to bring you their ‘Definitive Junior Doctors’ Guide to Working and Living in New Zealand’, which has since been updated by Jamie Truell in 2023. 

Drawing on their invaluable recent first hand experience and research, Shona, Will and Jamie will guide you through the process of job applications and relocation from start to finish, demystifying the bureaucracy and simply informing you what you need to do and how you need to do it.

Now you’ve no excuse..!

If you are interested in this piece, you may be interested in these others relating to work in Australasia:


  1. Checklists
  2. The NZ system
  3. The Application
    1. How to apply
    2. What to apply for
    3. Where to apply
    4. Important dates
    5. Documents required for your applications
  4. Things you’ll need to start work
    1. MCNZ
    2. GMC
    3. Certificate of good standing
    4. Visas
    5. Occupational Health
    6. Indemnity
  5. Things you’ll need to live
    1. Accomodation
    2. Bank accounts
    3. Tax numbers
    4. Health insurance
    5. Car
    6. Phone
    7. Student Loans
  6. Things to know about work
    1. Annual leave
    2. Study leave and courses
    3. Portfolio
    4. Swapping jobs
    5. Bonuses
    6. Pay
  7. Fees and finance
  8. Useful websites
  9. About the authors

1. Checklists

Documents for your applications

  • Cover letter
  • CV ( + Auckland specific CV document if applying there)
  • UK Police certificate
  • Certificate of Good Standing from GMC (within 3 months of your job start date and no sooner)
  • Advanced Life Support (ALS) certificate
  • Foundation completion certificate
  • Contact details for 3 referees (current supervisor and 2 previous supervisors)
  • GMC Licence to Practise certificate
  • Evidence +/- ability to obtain the right to live and work in NZ
  • * Medical degree certificate
  • * Driver’s licence
  • * Passport
  • Proof of current indemnity

* documents that need verifying (see Verification of Documents)

Once you’ve got a job offer

  • Book flights (check baggage allowance offered by different airlines and routes)
  • Sort visa +/- visa medical
  • Decide whether to relinquish your GMC licence to practise or whether to keep revalidating in the UK
  • Arrange initial accommodation in NZ
  • Arrange health insurance
  • Contact Student Loans Company if you have a student loan to arrange compulsory payments while you are earning abroad
  • Book annual leave for your first job
  • Request to set up NZ bank account online and arrange an activation meeting for as early as possible after you arrive in NZ
  • Transfer money into your NZ account before you fly to ensure it transfers in time
  • Tell your UK banks that you’re going away to cover using your cards until you have an NZ bank account
  • Take out some NZ dollars to cover your initial expenditures
  • Complete Occupational Health paperwork – this will be sent to you by your employer
  • Sort MCNZ registration – this will be done via your employer; arrange initial zoom meeting to verify your documents for when you are in NZ
  • Sort NZ indemnity cover
  • Complete Payroll documents – these will be sent to you by your employer
  • Sort NZ police certificate – your employer will do this for you but requires your permission
  • Join social media group for your hospital – this will also aid arranging run swaps

Once you’ve landed in NZ

  • Attend MCNZ meeting with required documents (as per their emails)
  • Complete any outstanding Occupational Health tests
  • Activate bank account , request debit/credit card and get a printed statement for address confirmation at the same meeting
  • Apply for IRD number (tax code) online/at post-office once you have proof of address and an active bank account
  • Buy an NZ sim card for your phone
  • Find long term accommodation
  • Buy a car if needed
  • Attend meeting with your DHB to complete final payroll documents etc. as required
  • Discuss available entitlements with your employer. Most IMGs working at a NZ DHB receive a 6% contribution to their retirement savings plan.
  • Consider signing up to MAS (a non-resident version of Kiwisaver). You can take the lump sum out when you leave NZ or access it when you turn 65 if staying in NZ long term.

2. The NZ system

The academic year in NZ starts in January/February (rather than August as in the UK). It is possible to start work in August i.e. as soon as you finish F2, although a many people start in January/February. This means you can work in NZ within F3 – work for 6 months (January/February to July/August) or 12 months (August to August); returning to the UK for interviews and then again to start training. Others take an F3 and F4; working January/February to January/February and return to the UK for interview season in their F4 year (or for February starts).

The grade scale is slightly different in NZ, see below:

Years out of medical schoolUK NomenclatureNZ Nomenclature
1F1/House officerPGY1/House officer/RMO
2F2/ SHOPGY2/House officer/RMO
3-5CT1, CT2 etc/ SHORegistrar (Junior Reg)
5+ST4, ST5 etc/ RegistrarRegistrar (Senior Reg)/Fellow

3. The Application

(a) How To Apply

There are two main routes to getting work in NZ.

  • Kiwi Health Jobs
  • Via a locum agency

Other routes include applying directly to hospitals, though at a junior level you’re often re-directed back to the national applications.

1. Kiwi Health Jobs

Individual hospitals or deaneries (called district health boards, or DHBs) will publish available jobs on Kiwi Health Jobs. You can often still get ahead of the game by looking at the DHB’s own website too or contacting them directly. Click here for a list of DHB websites. It varies between the DHBs, but they usually list either:

  • A specific job at a specific grade in a specific DHB e.g. House Officer in Emergency Medicine in Waikato DHB, or
  • General jobs at a specific grade in a specific DHB e.g. All House Officer jobs in Lakes DHB

The Kiwi Health Jobs application system auto-populates your answers if you’ve answered the same question in another application. This is handy, though there are still small differences that can catch you out. For example, Northlands DHB have a separate application form entirely. Similarly the Auckland DHB (a large area covering Waitemata, Auckland and Counties Manukau DHB’s) has a separate CV form that you must use; failure to do so can void your application.

2. Locum Agencies

There are a few locum agencies with whom you can register in order to get a job in NZ. Jamie’s experience was with Triple0, though others do exist. They are free for the user and receive a “finder’s fee” from the health board.

The upside is that they facilitate a lot of the paperwork that you will otherwise need to do yourself. They are more likely to have job availability during periods when national applications aren’t open (e.g. in August when you finish F2) and can look for quite specific jobs for you e.g. House Officer in O&G in Auckland starting in October, rather than having to apply to many different jobs.

Their downside is their popularity – you have to register early in order to get ahead of the masses! They may also not find you a job, or find you one very last minute. If you want a set plan and structure to your time out, relying on the locum agencies to find you a job at a specific time isn’t the most sensible. It is always worth regularly staying in contact to ensure you stay on their radar.

The best thing to do is to try to tailor your approach; decide where you want to work and what in. Even if you decide on just North or South island, it will save you an incredible amount of time in application form filling!

(b) What To Apply For

After finishing F2 in the UK, you are eligible for either House Officer or Junior Registrar posts in NZ [see table above].

House Officer jobs are essentially like F1 and F2 all over again. They are a good option if you don’t know what you want to do long term and just want a job full stop. They can be useful to gain experience in specialties you haven’t done during F1/2, for example more time in surgical specialties, ED etc. If you do know what you’ll train in, they can be useful to build points for an application (e.g. Anaesthesia applications give points for 12+ months post-F2 in “complementary specialties”). Their downfall is that you’re not really progressing; it’s like doing more time in an F1 or F2 role.

Due to changes in junior doctor contracts, there are more House Officer jobs available than previously. This should make it easy to get one somewhere. That said, priority is given to NZ nationals (and in particular NZ nationals of Maori descent), so you are unlikely to get all your first choices in terms of location or specific specialty.

Junior Registrar jobs are more like core training jobs in the UK. They are good if you know what you want to specialise in, or want experience in a specific field to see whether it’s for you. The application process is the same, but there is greater competition for places. Some of them require a certain length of time in the specialty before applying e.g. 6 months Emergency Medicine before applying to be an ED Registrar, 9 months Surgery before applying to be a Surgical Registrar. In most centres it is easy to transition to a Junior Registrar from a SHO after 6 months. Of note, Registrar posts tend to run February to February, rather than January to January.

(c) Where To Apply

There are 20 DHBs in NZ, now all under the umbrella of Te Whatu Ora (Health New Zealand). Most tend to have 1 or 2 big hospitals, with a larger number of smaller DGH-type hospitals. It’s best to do some thinking about what you want hospital-wise (big city vs. small rural) as well as where you want to work (small town by the beach, major city etc). The government’s website with a list of individual DHB websites is a good place to start and there’s a helpful map here.

(d) Important Dates (approximate)

These are provided as a guide, but please check up to date application dates directly with where you intend to apply.  For example Christchurch, or Auckland.

mid-MayHouse Officer/Registrar – Applications open
mid-JuneHouse Officer/Registrar – Applications close
late-AugRegistrars/designated Senior House Officer positions – Offers made
late-AugRegistrars/designated Senior House Officer positions – Acceptances due
early-SeptHouse Officers – Offers made (non-residents will hear a week after kiwis)
mid-SeptHouse Officer – Acceptances due
late-SeptHouse Officer –  Allocations published
late-SeptRegistrars and designated Senior House Officer Allocations published
mid-JanHouse Officer Start Date
early-FebRegistrar Start Date

(e) Documents required for your Applications


Regardless of what visa type you apply for (see ‘Visas’ below), you will need a minimum of 15 months left on your passport from the time your visa starts (usually the first day you enter the country). If you planned on starting work in NZ in August 2023, your passport should expire no earlier than November 2024. Worth looking at early on, as last-minute new passports are pricey!


All applications require a CV. As mentioned above, the Auckland Region has its own CV template. Otherwise it’s an as-you-like-it CV. Worth getting in order early, especially as you’ll need one for UK applications anyway.


A mandatory requirement for applications are three references. These must be from the three rotations/jobs you did immediately prior to starting in NZ. There is a generic RP6: Referee Form, used by the DHBs and the MCNZ.

If you are planning to start in NZ in August, the references will be from your Clinical Supervisors for your three F2 rotations.

If you are planning to start in NZ in January/February, and have done one locum or trust grade job between August and then, the references will be from your locum supervisor and the Clinical Supervisors from your last two F2 rotations.

It can seem annoying to have to get the form filled out; our best suggestion is to print off a number of copies and bring one to end-of-rotation meetings, getting the supervisor to fill it out then and there. You’ll then have to scan it yourself and upload it to your application later. Some regions now do these electronically, so give your supervisor a copy in case they need to fill it out online again at a later date.

DBS/Police Checks

You will need to have checks from any country you are a citizen of, in addition to NZ police forces, during the process of getting a job in NZ. The international police certificate(s) are for immigration purposes. UK certificates cost £55 (or £95 if you leave it last minute) and can be requested here.

The NZ police certificates is for work purposes. It is free. Once you receive your job offer, your employer will email you a Police Vetting Form to fill out.

Other Documents

Both National and Locum application processes will require copies of a wide array of documents. These include personal ID (passport, driver’s licence) and medical documents (ALS certificate, F2 completion certificate etc.). Please see the checklists above for a full list of the documents you’ll require.

Verification of Documents and Statutory Declaration

Some documents you will need to have verified as being yours through the US based Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials (EPIC) Physicians Portal. The whole process takes a few weeks, includes an identity check over zoom and costs 230 USD. Your EPIC Identification Form (EIF) must be certified by an authorised official. The Post Office offers this service – you’ll need to bring the original document, a photocopy and the £12.75 fee. See here for more details. If your name differs between any of your official documents, you will need to have a statutory declaration signed to verify they’re all yours. Examples might be lacking middle names, or maiden and married names on different documents. This has to be done by a notary. If you don’t happen to have a family friend or colleague who’s a notary, you may have to pay for this to be done, in the region of £75. You can find your nearest one here.

4. Things You’ll Need To Start Work

(a) MCNZ Licence

The MCNZ is New Zealand’s GMC equivalent. You’ll need a licence to practise before you start work. As a UK graduate, you’ll be given a 6 month provisional license to practice which, assuming you get ‘signed off’ at the end of the period, will be converted to a full licence to practise after that time. The MCNZ also require references – you can use the same ones as for your job applications.

The application can be pricey. Most people pay an initial fee of approximately $600, followed by the actual licence fee. The license fee cost changes depending on your birthday (yeah, we know it’s weird), but is going to be in the region of $700-$1000. The good news is that you can claim that fee back once you start work; the bad news is you have to have the money in the first place to afford it! See Fees and Finances below.

Once you have applied for a licence, the next step is being “invited for a zoom interview”. This is merely a document-checking and form-filling exercise, but has to be done in NZ by an MCNZ-approved notary. It is free. Once this has been done and paperwork approved you will receive a practising certificate.

On finishing work in NZ, contact the MCNZ to let them know. If you are even considering returning to work in NZ again, they recommend remaining on their register as a non-practicing clinician (equivalent to relinquishing your license to practice but staying on the GMC register). This is currently free.

(b) GMC Licence

As an aside, it is worth considering what to do with your GMC licence. There are three options:

  • Keep your licence: you’ll pay full fees, but be eligible to work in the UK (including as a locum). You’ll also have to revalidate annually i.e. complete an annual return. This either means getting your current designated body to agree to keep you on their books and doing your revalidation meeting OR paying a fee to the GMC to do it.
  • Relinquish your licence: you won’t have a license to practise medicine in the UK, though you’ll keep your registration with the GMC. You’ll pay less in fees. It costs £10 to relinquish your license and £10 to reinstate it. You won’t need a designated body nor have to complete an annual return. To reinstate your licence to practise you will need to provide statements from employers since relinquishing your licence and a certificate of good standing/professional status from the medical council(s) you have worked under (e.g. COPS from MCNZ currently costs 220.43 NZD [March ’23]). You will also need a completed UD8 form.
  • Relinquish your registration: you won’t have a licence to practise and you’ll be removed from the GMC list of registered medical practitioners. Not really the done thing unless you’re leaving medicine entirely or plan to never return to the UK to practice medicine. You can re-register, but we wouldn’t really recommend this option.

More information can be found on the GMC website under Revalidation.

(c) Certificate of Good Standing

You will be asked to provide a Certificate of Good Standing (a.k.a. Certificate of Current Professional Status; CCPS) from the GMC. This is for the MCNZ to verify you haven’t been struck off etc. The certificate sent must be within 3 months of your start-date for work. If you apply too early, you’ll have to re-apply to get one within that 3 month time frame. It is free. It is an electronic certificate that is sent directly to the MCNZ. You do not have to carry, print or hand it in. Simply request it and the rest happens automatically.

To request one, log into your GMC Online account. Then follow: My Registration ⇒ My CCPS Request ⇒ Request a CCPS.

(d) Visas

There are three main visas on which you can work: Working Holiday Visa, Straight to Residency Visa and Accredited Employer Worker Visa.

For those not looking for a permanent move, the oxymoronic Working Holiday Visa is your best bet. You must apply for one before you get a permanent job offer. You can apply for 12 months (455 NZD) or 23 months (910 NZD). For the 12-month visa, you may need a CXR depending on time spent in TB-endemic countries. For the 23-month visa, you will need a CXR and medical as above. Our understanding is that once 23 months has elapsed, you will not be eligible for a further Working Holiday Visa again in the future. Getting a Working Holiday Visa is quick; can be within 2 weeks. Time on a Working Holiday Visa does not count towards residency and citizenship requirements.

From July 2023, Working Holiday Visas are open to UK citizens aged up to 35 and can last up to three years.

For those planning to be in NZ longer term, the Straight to Residency Visa is an expensive but efficient choice. Doctors are “Tier 1” roles that New Zealand wants. As such, they have introduced a 2-year fast track to permanent residency. It costs 4890 NZD to apply for from the UK and will take at least a couple of months to be approved. You will require a full medical and CXR. After your two years, you can apply for permanent residency. This beats the six years for most other professions.

The middle ground between these two is the Accredited Employer Worker Visa. This is a three-year work visa linking you to a specific job. Due to the changes to Working Holiday and introduction of Straight to Residency, this is unlikely to be your best option for short or long term.

Some of you will have partners who aren’t doctors but are coming with you to New Zealand. We recommend visiting the New Zealand immigration website which has all of the above information and more.

(e) Occupational Health (OH)

You will fulfil most OH requirements just by having the required immunisations for F1/2 in the UK. There are, however, some differences which require you to have extra tests and possibly vaccines. These are free from the OH department at your employing trust, so don’t shell out for them at home privately! TB – Unlike the UK, BCG scar is not evidence of adequate immunity against TB. OH will want you to have a Quantiferon Gold test. If this is negative, no dramas. If it is positive, they will want you to have a CXR as evidence you don’t have pulmonary TB. If you have had a CXR for visa purposes, you can send them the [normal] report from this; you won’t have to have a 2nd CXR.

VZV – A positive history of chicken pox is likewise not considered adequate immunity, so you will have to have a VZV antibody titre. Presumably if this is low, you will be offered a booster.

(f) Indemnity

You will need professional indemnity cover to work in NZ. Have a look at the indemnity insurance page on the NZRDA website. The NZRDA are the Kiwi equivalent of the BMA.

There are a few companies that provide indemnity; it’s best to check out which is right for you. Options include MPS-NZ, NZMII and Medicus.

We went with MPS-NZ. If you are already an MPS member in the UK – you can transfer your membership across to NZ. You won’t have to pay any new fees if you’ve already paid for the year. There are certain criteria you have to fulfil for this to work – one of which is retaining your GMC registration (but not license). If you aren’t already an MPS member in the UK, you’ll have to create a membership and pay the subscription fee for your cover (this can also be claimed back once you start work).

5. Things You’ll Need To Live

(a) Accommodation

Accommodation can be tricky to sort as you arrive in a new country. It’s best to arrive early and get stuck in to finding somewhere to live as soon as possible. TradeMe is a good bet for both rental property (via ‘Estate Agents) or ‘Flatmates Wanted’ i.e. renting a room in a pre-existing household. There are also Facebook groups e.g. ‘Auckland Flatmates Wanted’. The other option is renting via an estate agent directly; the big ones (in Auckland) are Barfoot & Thompson, Ray White and Harcourts.

In the interim, staying with friends, friends-of-friends or Airbnb are good options. You will need an NZ address for many of the things below, including bank accounts, IRD numbers and car purchase/insurance. Best to ask someone you know (well) if you can use their address for official things – others have had success using Airbnb addresses.

Be aware that many properties come unfurnished and may not have white goods. Everything can be purchased through TradeMe at reasonable rates.

(b) Bank Account

You’ll need an active NZ bank account for your wages (these cannot be put into international accounts), as well as for your IRD number and day-to-day living. There are a number of different banks you can choose to bank with (see ‘Banks’ under Useful Websites). The banks all seem much-of-a-muchness; we personally went with Westpac as we had them recommended to us and it was extremely smooth.

We recommend you apply for your bank account in advance of your arrival in NZ. You can then arrange to have it activated (requires a meeting at the bank in person) on one of the days soon after your arrival, meaning you’ll avoid having to use UK cards etc.. You are also able to transfer money into your account in advance of it being active. This means that on the day you activate it, you’ll have money ready to go! For international transfers, we recommend Transferwise.

All bank accounts come with an EFTPOS card – this is a non-personalised, non-contactless transaction card. It is linked to your account, can be used in most shops, petrol stations etc and to withdraw cash from ATMs. It does not work for online purchases – you will need to apply a debit or credit card for these. Our recommendation is applying for a debit (+/- credit) card during your initial activation meeting at the bank. You can also have it sent to the bank branch to collect if you don’t have a permanent address yet.

(c) IRD Number

The NZ IRD Number is the equivalent of a UK National Insurance Number. In theory it’s not a mandatory requirement to work, although without it all your earnings are taxed at 45% (and not retrospectively reclaimable if you get an IRD number later). You need to already be in New Zealand before you can apply; applying online gets you your number quickly (<1 week) versus the paper application (2-3 weeks). The IRD website has the details for applying, but you’ll need an active bank account to apply, so sort that out first!

(d) Health Insurance

Emergency healthcare is free at the point of contact. GP appointments are not, and you will have to pay for an appointment +/- extra depending on what they do. It is unlikely you will find a health insurance policy that covers you for the whole year. Most annual policies seem to last for just the first 90 days of any one trip. If you return to the UK within the first 3 months of your time in NZ, then fly back, it will reboot it – this is an expensive option however!

(e) Car

The public transport systems in NZ are pretty woeful compared to most of the UK, certainly compared to major UK cities. Inter-city trains are virtually non-existent. Within cities and towns, there will be variable bus and train networking. Auckland has the best train network, though it is still relatively poor.

If you plan on doing any sort of travelling in-country, you will need a car. The car market in NZ is slightly odd – the bulk of it consists of Japanese cars that have been imported (seemingly because Japan has an extremely strict M.O.T after a few years, which is so expensive most people just sell their cars to exporters rather than have it done). The bonus of getting a second hand car of Japanese make is that they tend to be cheaper (as there’s a big supply) and if they do break, spare parts are plentiful. By comparison, European makes such as Volkswagen are less plentiful, tend to be a bit pricier and are more expensive to fix. If you don’t require one day-to-day, it may be worth just renting a car or camper van for when you do want one! If you need one day-to-day, there are a few places to get one from:

  • Car Fairs: These are pre-organised days where people bring their car and try to sell it. The upsides are that you can see loads of cars at once and can negotiate a price individually. The downsides are the quality is very much dependent on who pitches up to sell on the day, as well as the usual downsides of buying privately rather than through a dealer. You’ll have to find the nearest car fair to where you’ll be working/staying, but as an example in Auckland they have them every Saturday (Auckland Central – and Sunday (Ellerslie).
  • TradeMe: TradeMe is the hub of most internet buying/selling in NZ. It is sort of a lovechild of Gumtree, Ebay, Freecycle and Amazon. With respect to cars, both private dealers and car dealerships will put cars up for sale on TradeMe. The same pros and cons apply as above; it can be good for seeing rough pricing estimates etc.
  • Car Dealerships: There are loads out there, from make-specific new car dealerships to generic second hand dealers. The bonus of a dealership is that they’ve got their reputation on the line, so are less likely to try and rip you off. There are also some consumer rights that mean if your car implodes within a “reasonable time frame”, the dealer is culpable.

Car Insurance is not actually mandatory in NZ! Although it is obviously recommended. It tends to be cheaper than back home (approximately half the price of UK insurance). If you have car insurance, anyone over the age of 25 with a licence can drive your car for free without being named on the insurance policy. The excess tends to be greater if you have had an NZ licence for less than 2 years (or don’t have one at all). There are lots of insurance companies available; the AA is a popular choice.

In NZ the MOT is called a “WOF” (Warrant of Fitness). It is done annually, is cheaper than an MOT ($50-80), and can be done in most garages. If you’re buying a car, make sure its WOF is up to date. If not, take this into account for pricing.

Road Tax is called Registration (or “Rego”). It’s more expensive than the UK, though still not loads. As with the WOF, make sure the car you buy has an up-to-date registration.

Pre-purchase inspection. The AA do two levels of car inspection. Most dealers will say their car has “passed AA inspection”, which basically means it has 4 wheels and a chassis. There is a more detailed inspection called a Pre-Purchase Inspection. It costs $209, but gives a thorough run through of the mechanics etc. of the car. Worth the dollar if you’re set on a car but want an eye cast over it.

(f) Phone

There are fewer available phone networks in NZ. The big brands are all much-of-a-muchness, though it’s worth scouting which one will be best for you. Vodafone, Spark and 2Degrees are the three main brands; anecdotally Vodafone and Spark have the best network coverage.

(g) Student Loans

If you have a student loan there is unfortunately, no escaping paying it off. It is worth contacting the student loans company before you go to organise this as friends that didn’t got hit with a large bill on their return.

6. Things To Know About Work

(a) Annual Leave

For House Officer roles, leave is:

  • 30 days annual leave; max 2 weeks in a row, can split however you like between rotations.
  • Leave can be taken on any shift, although they can turn down normal leave requests for out of hours shifts if needed for staffing
  • STILL/STAT days; the NZ equivalent of ‘days in lieu’, these are earned by working public holidays. You can take them at any time and, if 2 weeks notice is given, they cannot reject your request.
  • If you would like a long weekend, request the Friday off before you get your rota. This guarantees your weekend off.

If you don’t take all your leave, you get paid for the leave you don’t take. For example, if you only took 28 days leave in the year, you will be paid 2 days worth of salary (at the rate of your most recent job). If you use up all 30 days, you are allowed to take more leave, though it is unpaid and still has to be approved in the same way. If you move jobs within a DHB, or to a different DHB, your remaining leave can be transferred. This process takes some time, however, so you may not be able to take it straight away.

(b) Study Leave and Courses

At house officer level you have 5 days study leave during an academic year. It has to be approved in the same way as annual leave.

You will be reimbursed for courses you go on if they are deemed relevant to your job or your training. This isn’t clearly defined – best option is to find a course you want to do, ask your employer in advance whether they’ll refund it, then book on if they say yes. You can do many of the courses that are recognised internationally e.g. ATLS, APLS – if you want to do these and/or need them for applications, may be sensible to get them done in NZ for free!

(c) Portfolio

No portfolio is required until you have your general registration (which will be after six months of work with completed sign offs submitted to the MCNZ). You will, however, have to have a completed RP3/5 form for each run within this time period (usually two runs if a house officer, one if a registrar). These forms must be signed by the supervisor named on your MCNZ provisional license certificate; if this supervisor hasn’t directly worked with you on the run, their countersignature will do.

At six months you will complete a change of scope form, to apply to switch from provisional to general registration. Your named supervisor will also need to sign this change of scope form in the same fashion as above. Ensure that they are happy to provide future references, as many UK jobs you return to will require references for all jobs you have done in the last five years.

Once you are eligible for general registration, the MCNZ will contact you and explain how to set up ‘Inpractice’. This is their eportfolio equivalent; a less time consuming version of the UK ones.

(d) Swapping Jobs

In theory you are able to swap any of your rotations. To do so you need to fill out a swap form stating which rotation you have and which rotation you want to have. You are most likely to get a swap approved if you can find a reciprocal swapper. You can, however, submit a form without a pre-organised match and hope they’ll pair you to an anonymous swapper. Ask your recruiting DHB who to email and for a swap form if you get dealt a rough hand.

If you begin as a House Officer and want to upgrade to a Registrar this can be done; you’ll have to have an offer of a Registrar job and also give 3 months notice on your House Officer contract.

(e) Bonuses

There are loads of other bonuses you can claim once you begin work. Examples include claiming 1.5x pay for working public holidays (on top of your existing salary and banding) and claiming ‘additional hours’ if your co-worker calls in sick (on top of your existing salary!). You are also guaranteed at least one free hot meal per shift. In some hospitals this translates to a totally free canteen; just swipe your ID to “pay”.

(f) Pay

You are paid fortnightly! Your income tax is deducted at source; there is no tax-free allowance in NZ. You do pay pension contributions though can claim these back when you exit the country. As in the UK, each rotation has a different banding (called Category).

See below for the current annual House Officer, non-urban, non-shift work pay scales (in NZ Dollars). In our experience, F3’s are paid at Year 3 rates with urban and shift work scales being higher. Registrar rates will differ but can also be found in the MECA agreement.

CategoryHoursYear 1Year 2Year 3Year 4

Non-urban scales apply at Northland, Lakes, Taranaki, Tairawhiti, Hawkes Bay, Bay of Plenty, Whanganui, MidCentral, Wairarapa, Nelson Malborough, South Canterbury, West Coast, and Invercargill Hospital-based runs at Southern DHB.

If you start or finish work any time except the start/end of the NZ tax year (April to April), you may be eligible for a tax rebate. This can be done online via Inland Revenue at the start of the following tax year.

7. Fees and Finances

The process of setting yourself up for work and life in NZ is not cheap; you will need a chunk of money to cover the initial costs. A rough estimate is below – we have erred on the side of expense but in reality may be cheaper. (All prices are converted into £ at a rate of $1.95 NZD = £1).

In order to start work, assuming you opt for a 12 month working holiday visa, with CXR required and paying a notary, and get a phone sim on arrival, minimum costs are:

ExpenseEstimated cost
MCNZ fee£650 – 800
Post Office fees£12.75
UK Police Check£55
Medical (inc. CXR)£380-420
TOTAL£1540 – 1730

In addition to this you will need to consider the cost of a car (in the region of £3000 if you buy it outright) and permanent accommodation (typically in the region of £400-650/month, estate agents usually require 1 week’s rent in advance, 3 weeks deposit and a letting fee, which is usually 1 weeks rent plus tax).

8. Useful websites

Locum / Recruitment Agencies – Gold Standard Locums – MedAcs – Triple0. – MedRecruit – Head Medical

Banks – WestPac – BNZ – ANZ – ASB


Auckland Doctors – Information on childcare, education, moving your pets, relocation companies, tax, transport etc. Courtesy of the Auckland Doctors website.

Trade Me – Listings for properties, cars and all general items

Triple0 – Guides to relocating as a junior/specialist/GP, locuming, living and working in NZ and more.

9. About the authors

Shona and Will

Shona and Will were F3/4s in Auckland when they originally wrote this article. Before their Antipodean adventure began they mixed locum work in A&E with cycle touring, traveling and simulation/emergency teaching in Uganda with the Poole Africa Link.

Jamie is an F4 working as a paediatric SHO in Wellington having worked in Southampton Children’s Emergency Department during his F3 year. He plans to stay in New Zealand for now.


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