Working as a doctor in New Zealand

By , Melinda McCarthy published on 03/05/2023

Doctors look to New Zealand for a change of pace, better employment options, a temperate climate, and access to unspoiled landscapes. We regularly get asked questions about what it's like to live and work in New Zealand, so we thought we'd provide a few insights from our own doctors and our NZ recruitment team.

If there is something you would like to know that we have not covered, please email i[email protected]

The demand for General Practitioners, Emergency Medicine Doctors, and General Medicine Physicians in New Zealand, much like in Australia, has been on the rise for the past 18 months. With fewer medical students pursuing a general practice pathway, an increase in the number of doctors entering retirement and specialist wait times in some areas as long as 4 months, we are working with District Health Boards and medical centres across New Zealand to find doctors from Australia, the UK, and Ireland who are interested in 1 - 2 year fixed term or permanent contracts.

Dermot Roche CEO, Co-founders Dr's Ross Lamplugh & Hamish Meldrum
Our story began back in 2002 when Doctors Hamish Meldrum (a Kiwi) and Ross Lamplugh, challenged by the need for quality locum Doctors in rural Australia, established “Australian Outback Locums”. In 2003, Australian Outback Locums transitioned into Ochre Recruitment and today we are proud to be one of only a few dedicated Medical Recruitment agencies with consultants working in both New Zealand and Australia.
We have grown to cover all areas of New Zealand and Australia providing medical recruitment solutions for hospitals, private practices, and corporates in rural and metropolitan regions. We have long-standing relationships with clients, from small rural sole practices, to District Health Boards.

“The New Zealand Healthcare System allows you to have genuine relationships with your patients, to speak your mind and talk about available medical modalities and have real discussions with patients; one does not have to worry about patient satisfaction scores; the government does not withhold pay for not making the patients happy… everyone is concerned about general well-being and not about making money for the hospital.”  Dr. Garett Burke, ED Specialist

What can I expect as a doctor working in New Zealand?

The healthcare system is well run. There’s far less paperwork, less bureaucracy, and good access to Allied Health… as a Doctor you can get things done! Practices and hospitals are all equipped with the latest technology and with comprehensive universal healthcare available to all New Zealanders, the standard of healthcare is high.

Fast Facts for General Practitioners

  • An average day consists of 2 sessions (AM/PM). Each session is usually 4 hours.
  • Most Doctors work 8 sessions per week.
  • Standard appointments are 15 mins long.
  • Some practices include on-call of 1-2 nights per week. This is more common in rural areas but varies from practice to practice.
  • Procedural skills, emergency medicine, and minor surgery are valuable.
  • Some practices have a walk-in clinic that all GPs work in on a roster basis.

Auckland City

I am an Australian doctor and want to work in NZ. What steps do I need to take?

If your primary degree was completed in Australia, we can find you a permanent or fixed-term role in New Zealand. There are plenty of opportunities across the length and breadth of New Zealand. Once we have completed our job search for you and you have a job offer, we can assist you with your application to the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ). You will need to gain MCNZ registration prior to working in New Zealand as a doctor.

How long does the MCNZ generally take to grant me my registration? 

Allow 3 - 4 months, ideally 6 months from start to finish.

The Northern Coramandel

As an Australian GP who completed their primary degree and internship in Australia, can I work anywhere in New Zealand?

Yes you can. We will work with you to find you a fixed-term contract in a practice that share's the same values as you. You will not be required to work under supervision and will be able to locum immediately - you'll need us to secure you a role as you will need a job offer to apply for MCNZ registration.

"Ochre recruitment are excellent to work with. They walked me through every step of the application process from start to finish. They even provided a great day of training which helped start my orientation to the NZ medical system. They matched me with an excellent clinic whose staff have not only provided me with further extensive orientation to health care in NZ but are also readily available for help when needed. I would highly recommend the experience to anyone keen for a change of pace and scenery.” Dr Leisha Ostrowski, General Practitioner

I am a British doctor... Is the process the same for me?

If you are a General Practitioner, Consultant or Specialist doctor, you must hold Vocational Registration to be able to work in New Zealand. You can do this via the Competent Authority Pathway and we can assist you with a comprehensive job search during the application process.

I am a Registrar from the UK, can I work in New Zealand?

Yes absolutely. We also get many Junior Doctors at the RMO level, PGY2+ coming to New Zealand to work for 1 - 2 years. They love the adventure lifestyle and many choose to stay for longer. If you have completed your primary degree in the UK or Ireland and have at least one year of general medicine or emergency medicine experience within the UK or Ireland, you will take the Competent Authority Pathway

Hawkes Bay

I am an IMG from another country, can I work in New Zealand?

Yes. If you hold current and full registration in a çomparable' country, you will follow the comparable country pathway.

What are the most popular locations for GPs to work in?

Some international Doctors prefer urban locations, as they aren’t keen on covering on-call or they prefer to be closer to a secondary or tertiary hospital. On the other hand, some Doctors love the challenge of rural practice, covering on-call and completing ward rounds at the local rural hospital. It all comes down to your lifestyle preferences and career aspirations.

What salary can I expect to receive working as a General Practitioner in New Zealand?

The annual salary for permanent GPs in New Zealand falls between $170,000 and $230,000 NZD.

What salary can I expect to receive working as a Specialist Doctor in New Zealand?

Most specialist doctors working in New Zealand can expect to earn an annual salary ranging between $190,000 and $250,000 NZD.

This depends on:

  • Your experience working as a consultant since acquiring specialist qualification
  • The amount of time you’ve spent on-call
  • The hospital location—there is a small incentive paid to specialists who work in rural hospitals.
  • Initially, specialist doctors from overseas can only work in public hospitals. Once you are established in New Zealand you can pick up private hospital work to boost your earnings.


What salary can I expect to receive working as a Junior Doctor in New Zealand?

Salaries for junior doctors in New Zealand range between $60,000 and $185,000 NZD.

Junior doctors are employed directly by a District Health Board in New Zealand. They are paid a salary and receive benefits in accordance with the Multi-Employer Collective Agreement known as MECA.

Please visit the New Zealand Resident Doctors Association page to find out more. 

Why Ochre?

We have been helping doctors from overseas move their careers and families to New Zealand for over 20 years. If you are an Australian, British or Irish Doctor considering the move to New Zealand, we have clients that are keen to hear from you. With exciting one-year contracts for General Practitioners, ED & General Medicine RMOs, SHOs & Registrars, offering great salary packages and an opportunity to gain experience in a new healthcare system, now is the perfect time to start the conversation.  

We take careful note of your personal needs—a successful move to New Zealand relies on this. We are very interested in learning more about you, and if travelling with a partner or family, understanding their needs as well. 

Whether you are considering a move from the rigours of the NHS; perhaps you are contemplating an across the Tasman sea change; or maybe your long-term career goals can’t be achieved at home and you’re looking abroad for opportunities to pursue your specialty interests and/or leadership aspirations, we can assist.

If you love a grand adventure, New Zealand is the place to be.

If you are considering the move and you're a General Practitioner, call Angelique Rahme on 0064 022 463 7328 or email [email protected]

For Emergency Medicine Jobs and Medicine Roles please WhatsApp Shelley Caswell on 0064 218 418 4229 or email [email protected]

Search Doctor Jobs in New Zealand

Subscribe to get
the latest updates


a call