In Australia it is a visa requirement for you (and your family, if applicable) to have Overseas Student Health Cover throughout your time in the country as a student. A 12 month OSHC policy for someone on their own will cost around AU$500, family cover will vary according to the size of the family. We would recommend you use the price comparison site OSHC Australia to get the best rates on OSHC as rates do vary considerably. The Australian Department of Health have a FAQ about OSHC on their website here.
In New Zealand it’s also a requirement of the New Zealand Ministry of Education that all international students have appropriate health and travel insurance for the duration of their studies – prices will vary depending on your circumstances but a basic policy will cost around NZ$500 per year for single cover. For more information about medical insurance for New Zealand, please visit the Uni-care website.
Make sure you check what is covered by any insurance policy that you buy. The basic policies may not cover pre-existing medical conditions or any other long distance travel that you might undertake, so you might want to see about tailoring your policy, or covering yourself with a seperate travel policy as well.
Vaccinations, dental treatment and eyesight
You don't need any vaccinations in order to travel to Australia or New Zealand, however it is a good idea to make sure you are up to date with any regular vaccinations before you leave for a period of study, particularly tetanus.
Before you leave, we'd also recommend that you get your eyes and teeth checked. Dental treatment and eyesight checks are not generally covered by your insurance and could cost you a bit. In the larger cities, you may be able to get relatively cheap emergency dental treatment at a dental hospital.
Health Issues & other things to be aware of!
There are hundreds of horror stories about dangerous creatures in the Australian outback, but in reality attacks by snakes, spiders, jellyfish and sharks are very rare. There are a couple of things which you should be concerned about though:
The sunshine in the Southern hemisphere is very strong. It's one of the big draws of Australia and New Zealand as tourist destinations, but also one of the biggest health problems. A whopping two out of three Australians is likely to develop skin cancer in their lifetime, which is why government campaigns regularly encourage you to slap on the sunscreen and cover up in the sun. Dehydration can also be a big problem in the heat, so make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Mosquitos & Sandflies
Mosquitos can be found throughout Australia and New Zealand and although they are not malarial mozzies, they can pass on some nasties. For this reason (and because mozzie bites are really annoying) you may want to keep some repellent at your side, particularly during the summer months.
Sandflies are a huge irritation, particularly along the West Coast of New Zealand. You shouldn't have to worry about disease being spread by sandfly bites, but again the insect repellent can be helpful to prevent your ankles getting chewed to bits!
As stated above, you are unlikely to meet much in the way of dangerous wildlife during your time in Australia or New Zealand, but it pays to be aware of a couple of things. There are beaches in Australia where it is unsafe to swim at certain times of the year because of jellyfish for example, but we won't go into too much (terrifying) detail here as all this information can be found in guidebooks or on the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide websites. The best way to stay safe is by making sure you follow local advice and warnings.