What is life like working as a GP in NZ today? We catch up with a UK GP couple who moved to Wellington

We’re really delighted to hear how a GP couple we helped relocate to New Zealand are getting on. Dan and Hannah first got in touch with us in August 2020. Emma spent time getting to know them before securing them a post just outside Wellington which they started in June this year.

They’ve kindly taken the time to outline what life is like for them as GPs in New Zealand which we hope you find helpful in your decision making. If you want to find out more about moving to New Zealand as a GP please do get in touch with Emma here

What made you decide to move to New Zealand?

We had always considered working abroad as we love travelling and had wanted to explore on a more permanent basis. We both chose general practice as a career as we felt it would allow us to travel and work abroad more quickly than some other specialist training programs, as well as the fact that it is a varied and flexible job. We had visited New Zealand and absolutely loved the people, the lifestyle and the landscape.

Tell us about a typical day in your GP role?

COVID taking off in New Zealand has slightly changed the structure of our workday (from when we started) but it is still mostly face to face appointments of minimum 15mins. Patients are encouraged to book double appointments if they have complex problems. For the most part there is allocated time for paperwork and we always have a lunch break – this even includes leaving the building for a brief walk.

We do have a reasonable input to the inner workings of the practice and have regular clinician meetings to discuss cases or whether we feel anything could be done differently.

Best Bit about your day?

Dan – Having a lunch break and finishing on time most days

Hannah – finishing on time is an absolute luxury. Also having recognised time to fill out paperwork and do scripts.

Most challenging part of your day?

Dan – Still coming to terms with certain ways the health system in New Zealand works.

Hannah – there are some differences compared to the UK in that we manage more maternity care and GUM here. It has definitely pushed me into doing some new things which we didn’t have much exposure to back home.

How do you find the culture and lifestyle compared to the UK?

Dan – We loved our lives in the UK but work was heavy in terms of volume and it was sometimes difficult to switch off. Here I find I can spend my time off not worrying about work (as it’s more manageable) which means it’s much more quality time. We moved to an area where there is plenty to do outside, we are next to forest and hills, 25mins drive to the beach and Wellington. Everyone when we moved was willing to help out and people are friendly to each other.

Hannah – New Zealand has a very relaxed lifestyle and attitude to life. Places are generally much quieter with less queues and traffic which is a welcomed change. The Wellington surroundings are beautiful and the area is so accessible to the rest of New Zealand, allowing us to reach forest, beach, mountains and city in a short drive. There is so much to do here which does make down time so much more interesting.


How have you and your family settled in and would you have any tips for other GPs relocating?

It helps that we are both doing the same job so the transition has been straightforward for both work and general life. There are a few things that are different in New Zealand – renting is mostly all through private landlords and there is a lot of competition for property. Housing is variable based on this and it can feel like it takes a while to find the right place. We stayed in an Air BnB for 1 month whilst we decided what areas were right for us.

Our shipping still hasn’t arrived and it’s nearly 6 months on from when it was picked up from our house in the UK. If you are bringing furniture/household items definitely arrange this early and think hard about what you would really like to have in those first few months.

How have you found the transition from general practice in the UK to New Zealand?

Dan – So much easier than expected. The medicine is similar to a few more things being managed in primary care than in the UK and others we are used to but now have very little involvement in. This will change depending on where you end up working as well and the local secondary services available.

Hannah – I am surprised by the ease at which we have both managed to transition. Having only been a GP for 1 year prior to coming to NZ, I did have some worries about this, however we have been lucky enough to find a very supportive practice with a diverse group of colleagues with varying skills. On the occasions where I have picked up the phone to the hospital, I have been greeted with friendly clinicians who have always offered helpful advice.

It is more common for referrals to get rejected in New Zealand as the public system does have a very stringent budget with strict criteria. This can impact a little on the way you practice at times.

Finally, how have you found Transition Medical in helping you make the move to NZ?

From our first contact with Emma we wouldn’t have explored any other companies helping with emigration. Even when it was just an idea she took the time to listen and address any concerns. There was never any pressure. If anything I think it was harder because we had so much choice and didn’t feel an affiliation to any particular part of New Zealand. Once we had narrowed this down the job interviews and applications were easily facilitated by Emma and Kirsty and our immigration advisor. There is a lot of information to get through but it was made as easy as possible by the team. We couldn’t recommend them highly enough.

Further Reading- click on the headings below in blue to read the full blog. 

Is there an age limit for GPs?

Top Tips for GP’s relocating to NZ

How are you supported into practice?

What next?

If you are interested in relocating to New Zealand and would like to find out more please get in touch with one of our specialist GP recruitment team.