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New Zealand – Prescriptions and Medications

In this article, we will discuss prescriptions and medications in New Zealand. If you are planning to visit or move to New Zealand, it is important to be familiar with the local practices when it comes to medications.

We will answer the following questions:

  • What are pharmacies called in the local language in New Zealand? What does the sign outside pharmacies look like in New Zealand?
  • What are pharmacy opening times in New Zealand?
  • Can common medicines be bought over the counter or do they require a prescription in New Zealand? Can medicines be ordered online?
  • How are prescriptions paid for in New Zealand?

Pharmacies in New Zealand

In New Zealand, pharmacies are commonly known as “Chemist” or “Pharmacy”. The sign outside a pharmacy is usually a green cross on a white background. This sign is recognized globally as the symbol for a pharmacy, making it easy for foreigners to identify a pharmacy in New Zealand.

Pharmacy Opening Times

Pharmacy opening times in New Zealand vary depending on the location and day of the week. Most pharmacies are open from Monday to Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. On Saturdays, pharmacies are usually open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Some pharmacies may also open on Sundays, but their opening hours are usually limited.

It is important to note that some pharmacies may close for a lunch break between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays. In addition, there are some pharmacies that operate 24/7, especially in bigger cities such as Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. If you require medication outside of regular pharmacy hours, it is advisable to check the location of a 24/7 pharmacy.

Medications in New Zealand

In New Zealand, some medications can be bought over the counter without a prescription, while others require a prescription from a doctor. Common medications such as painkillers, cough syrup, and allergy medication can be bought over the counter in most pharmacies. However, medications that are considered to be more potent or that have a higher risk of abuse, such as sleeping pills or strong painkillers, require a prescription.


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It is important to note that the rules regarding over-the-counter medication in New Zealand may differ from those in your home country. Therefore, it is always advisable to check with a pharmacist before purchasing any medication, especially if you are unsure about the dosage or potential side effects.

In addition, it is also possible to order medications online in New Zealand. There are several online pharmacies that offer home delivery of medication, but it is important to be cautious when ordering medication online. Always ensure that the online pharmacy is legitimate and that the medication you are ordering is safe and legal.

Prescription Medications

If you require a prescription medication in New Zealand, you will need to visit a doctor who will write you a prescription. Once you have the prescription, you can take it to a pharmacy to have it filled. It is important to note that prescriptions in New Zealand are usually valid for a limited period of time, usually six months. After this time, you will need to visit a doctor again to get a new prescription.

When you go to a pharmacy to have a prescription filled, you will need to provide your health insurance details. If you are a resident of New Zealand and have a valid New Zealand resident visa, you may be eligible for publicly funded healthcare, including prescription medication. However, if you are a visitor to New Zealand or do not have a valid resident visa, you will need to pay for the full cost of the medication.

It is important to note that the cost of prescription medication in New Zealand can vary widely depending on the type of medication, the dosage, and the manufacturer. In addition, the cost of medication can also be influenced by factors such as the availability of generic alternatives, which tend to be cheaper than brand-name medications.

If you are a resident of New Zealand and require regular prescription medication, it is advisable to consider taking out additional health insurance to cover the cost of medication. This is particularly important if you require medication that is expensive or that needs to be taken over a long period of time.

Payment for Prescriptions

As mentioned earlier, if you are a resident of New Zealand and have a valid resident visa, you may be eligible for publicly funded healthcare, including prescription medication. In this case, you will usually only need to pay a small co-payment for prescription medication. The amount of the co-payment will depend on the medication and your healthcare plan.

If you are not eligible for publicly funded healthcare or do not have a valid resident visa, you will need to pay for the full cost of the medication. It is advisable to check with the pharmacy beforehand to get an idea of the cost of the medication, as prescription medications in New Zealand can be quite expensive.

In conclusion, if you require medication while in New Zealand, it is important to be aware of the local practices when it comes to prescriptions and medications. Pharmacies in New Zealand are commonly known as “Chemist” or “Pharmacy”, and the sign outside a pharmacy is usually a green cross on a white background.

Pharmacy opening times in New Zealand vary, but most pharmacies are open from Monday to Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. and on Saturdays until around 1:00 p.m. Some pharmacies may also open on Sundays, but their opening hours are usually limited. In New Zealand, some medications can be bought over the counter without a prescription, while others require a prescription from a doctor.

Prescription medications require a prescription from a doctor and are usually valid for six months. When filling a prescription, you will need to provide your health insurance details, and if you are not eligible for publicly funded healthcare, you will need to pay for the full cost of the medication.

Finally, if you are a resident of New Zealand and require regular prescription medication, it is advisable to consider taking out additional health insurance to cover the cost of medication.


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