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GP practise with patient

Work as a specialist general practitioner or rural hospital doctor in New Zealand

Also known as: Doctor, Family Doctor, Family Physician, Primary Care Physician


Kia ora! Now is a great time to Make a Difference Somewhere Different.

Aotearoa, New Zealand is an amazing holiday destination! What if you could enjoy our country every day by living here and working as a specialist General Practitioner (GP) or Rural Hospital Doctor?

Specialist General Practitioners and Rural Hospital doctors are the first point of contact for most New Zealanders who have a health concern and 90 percent of medical problems are dealt with in a General Practice.

Our doctors are more than just an individual in a clinic. They become part of their communities’ wellbeing. With a diverse population of 5 million we need more GPs and rural hospital doctors.

You can see more of what New Zealand has to offer, in a role to suit the needs of you and your whānau (family). Be it small-town rural living or the bright lights of the city you’ll be in high demand wherever you choose to go.

If you’re interested in full-time, part-time or locum work. You choose your own working hours, to have a healthy work-life balance, make lasting connections with patients and work through complex yet rewarding challenges in one of the most beautiful places in the world.


GPs are on Tier 1 of New Zealand’s Green List which means you’re eligible for the Straight to Residence Visa and can apply for New Zealand residency before you arrive, provided you have a job offer from an accredited employer. This is just one of the benefits that comes with this visa class.


Would you like to know more?

Information on requirements for registration with the Medical Council of New Zealand is available in the registration information section of this page.

We work with NZLocums and NZMedJobs, who are divisions of Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network. They are experts in medical recruitment in Aotearoa, New Zealand and placing GPs into roles across the country, in both rural and urban practices. 

If you want to know more or you’re ready to apply, register your details with Hauora Taiwhenua, and one of their team will be in touch to discuss the next steps:


Register your details as a GP

Further Information

New Zealand GP Workforce Statistics

  • 64% work in GP-owned practices
  • 58% identify as female
  • 51% work full-time
  • 38% are international medical graduates
  • 48% of rural hospital doctors got their first medical degree overseas

Visa Pathways

As a GP, there are two major visa pathways to choose from:


1. New Zealand Residency (Recommended)

GPs are on Tier 1 of New Zealand's Green list, meaning that you can apply for a straight-to-residence visa for you and your family from offshore. 

To be eligible to New Zealand's straight-to-residence pathway, you must:

  • Be 55 years old or younger
  • Have a job offer from an accredited employer
  • Meet health and character requirements
  • Meet English language requirements

This pathway allows your family to be part of your residency application, rather than needing to apply for separate visas for all family members. Having New Zealand residency also allows you to buy a home and qualifies you for employer-matched superannuation straight away. The job offer you get also isn't tied to your residency application, meaning you can move jobs more easily than if you were on a work visa.



2. Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV)

An AEWV is a 3-year work visa that is tied to a job offer, meaning you would need to change the conditions of the visa in order to move roles. Your family would also need to apply for separate work, education and visitor visas that are linked to your AEWV application.

To be eligible for an AEWV, you must:

  • Have a job offer from an accredited employer
  • Meet health and character requirements
  • Provide proof that you are a bona fide applicant as per Immigration New Zealand's requirements


Registration Information

In order to practice in New Zealand, you need to be registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand. Depending on your level of qualification, and what country this was obtained in, there are a number of different registration pathways to choose from:


Provisional general scope (competent authority)

This pathway is for doctors who have completed a primary medical degree and internship in the UK or Ireland. These doctors can apply for provisional general registration and work in any area of medicine and at any level, provided they have appropriate supervision. After 6 months of successfully working under supervision, they can apply for a general scope of practice.


Provisional general scope (comparable health system)

This is an experience-based pathway for doctors who have recent practice in one or more of the 24 countries the Medical Council of New Zealand recognises as having health systems comparable to New Zealand. These doctors need to have worked for at least 33 of the last 48 months in a comparable health system in a particular area of medicine. They must have a job offer in New Zealand in that same area of medicine and at the same level of appointment. Once granted provisional registration, these doctors must work under supervision for 12 months before they can apply for a full general scope of practice.


Provisional general (Australian general registrants)

This pathway is for IMGs in Australia who have passed a specific written exam and clinical exam – these exams are administered by the Australian Medical Council, successfully completed 12-months of supervised practice in Australia and hold a general scope with AHPRA. Once granted provisional general registration, these doctors must work under supervision for 12 months, before they can apply for a general scope of practice.


General scope

This pathway is for doctors who have completed a primary medical degree and internship in Australia (or New Zealand). If they’ve completed their 2-year internship, they do not need to work under supervision.


Special purpose scope (locum tenens)

This is a temporary form of registration which allows doctors who hold an approved overseas postgraduate medical qualification in general practice to work for up to 12 months in New Zealand.  For general practice, our approved list of qualifications recognises postgraduate medical qualifications from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, UK and the USA.

Applications submitted via the provisional general, general or special purpose scope pathways are processed within 20 working days of receipt of a complete application.


Provisional vocational scope

Doctors who have an overseas postgraduate medical qualification in general practice and who wish to be recognised as specialists in New Zealand, can apply for assessment of eligibility for provisional vocational registration.  Applications via this pathway generally take 4 to 6 months to process and 90% of applications received are processed within this service standard.

This application type takes longer to process as it involves an assessment of the applicants training, qualifications and experience against the standard of a New Zealand vocationally-trained general practitioner holding FRNZCGP, which is undertaken by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners. 

Rural Primary health care

With about 200 Rural General Practices throughout the country and found in small towns close to major rural or urban centres or in remote settlements located in the most beautiful places new Zealand has to offer. Care is predominantly delivered in private general practices although other providers may include public health organisations, trusts and groups working with their local communities.

Rural general practices may be run by a sole practitioner where as lager practices may have six or more general practitioners. Most general practices usually also staff a rural nurse, receptionist and allied health professionals.

Māori Health

Statistics on Māori health care compare very poorly with those of non-Māori (Pakeha) and improving health outcomes for Māori is a key priority. New Zealand has about 240 Maori health providers and additional disability service providers delivering health services predominantly to Māori communities.

Māori health models are built on the concept of Te Whare Tapa Wha or the four cornerstones:

  • whānau (family health)
  • tinana (physical health),
  • hinengaro (mental health)
  • wairua (spiritual health)

Traditional healers incorporate the spiritual dimension in assessment and therapy and do so in a culturally relevant way.

Find out more about Māori Health

Hear from those who have made the move

NZ beach | Credit: Rod Long, unsplash

"The place we'd want to raise our family is somewhere like New Zealand"

Meet Sam and Katy - two GPs who moved from the UK to New Plymouth in New Zealand's North Island.

We'd love to help. Reach out to us!

Moving to Aotearoa New Zealand is a fantastic opportunity and a big step, we're here for you! Our dedicated team is here to provide guidance and support throughout your journey, so don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.