COVID-19 Testing

Find out about getting tested, the different tests used in New Zealand, and where you can be tested. 

Testing is free 

Generally, everyone can get tested for free — you do not need to be a New Zealand citizen or resident, and you will not have to pay for care if you test positive.  

You may need to pay for a test if it’s to enter another country or for surveillance testing by the business sector, which is outside the mandatory requirements. 

For more information about testing, take either of the following two links: 

  • Getting a pre-departure COVID-19 test for international travel 

When to get tested 

Reasons to get tested may include if you: 

  • feel unwell; 
  • are a household contact of someone with COVID-19; 
  • have been at a location of interest; 
  • are travelling domestically where the transport operator requires a negative test; 
  • are travelling internationally (depending on where you’re travelling to); 
  • are travelling to New Zealand; 
  • are attending a court in person and are asymptomatic and unvaccinated; 
  • are required to in order to undertake your work. 

If you think you need a test, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 

For more information about when to get tested take either of the following two links: 

  • Find out when you should get tested  

Financial support while awaiting results 

If you cannot work from home, your employer can apply for the COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment so you can continue to get paid. 

For more information about financial support take either of these two links: 

  • COVID-19 Short-term Absence Payment 

Different types of COVID-19 tests 

In New Zealand there are three types of test for COVID-19: PCR, Saliva and Rapid antigen. 

PCR tests 

PCR (or nasopharyngeal) tests are the most accurate test, and can be done at community testing centres, hospitals and medical centres. Results can take 2-5 days. 

It is a swab of the back of your nose and throat. A swab is like a small cotton-bud but with a longer stick.  

Saliva tests 

This testing is available for border workers. Saliva samples can be self-collected and dropped off at a collection point or observed by a health care worker. 

Rapid antigen tests (RATs) 

A rapid antigen test (RAT) is generally taken with a front of nose swab. It can be done in hospitals, medical centres, pharmacies and at home. These are used more often when case numbers are high.  

RAT results are returned faster than a PCR test (approx. 15 mins). 

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