Getting tested for COVID-19

Find out when you should get a test, where to get a test, and what happens next.

When you should get a test

Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are currently Aotearoa New Zealand’s primary testing tool for COVID-19.

You should get a test for COVID-19 if you:

Where to get a test

Rapid antigen testss (RATs) are now being used extensively as part of the COVID-19 testing plan. You can order RATs online for testing yourself at home and pick them up from a collection site or buy them from a retail store.

Order a rapid antigen test

You can order free rapid antigen test (RAT) kits for yourself and your household. These can be picked up from a collection site. Someone else can collect these on your behalf.

Find community collection sites in your area on:

Get a test in person

If you have symptoms, please wear a mask when you go for a test. If you can, bring your National Health Index (NHI) number with you. This is likely to speed up the process. You can still be tested if you don’t know your NHI number.

Testing at a hospital

If you are very unwell and advised by Healthline or your doctor you need to be assessed or tested at the hospital, you can ask someone to help you get there. If you need someone with you at the hospital, you or your support person should call ahead and discuss this with the doctor or nurse at the hospital.

If you have had a PCR test

If you have had a PCR test for COVID-19 go straight home and stay there while you wait for your result (this takes between 2 to 5 days)

Testing positive for COVID-19

See:

If you are a household contact of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, it is recommended that you take a daily RAT test for 5 days from the day the first person in your household receives a positive result. If any of your results are positive, then you must isolate for seven days and follow public health advice.

Testing negative for COVID-19

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should stay at home and get tested. If your RAT result is negative but your symptoms continue or worsen, you should take a further test 48 hours later.

If your symptoms get worse, contact your local healthcare provider or call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

It's possible for someone with COVID-19 to get a negative RAT result. This can happen because there wasn't enough virus in the sample, or because the test wasn't done correctly.

Record any positive and negative results in My Covid Record.

If the test fails or is indeterminate

If a result is failed or indeterminate, take another RAT. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how long to wait between tests.

See also:

The cost of testing

Travellers arriving by air  

After flying to New Zealand you are encouraged to complete a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) on day 0/1 and day 5/6 after arriving, even if you have no COVID symptoms (children under 6 months old are not asked to test).

All positive RAT results should be reported.

  • If you have a National Health Index number, you can upload your positive RAT result on My Covid Record
  • if you don’t have a National Health Index number, please report your positive result by calling the COVID-19 Test Results Line (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week) at:

You must self-isolate for 7 days after testing positive, or after you first noticed any COVID symptoms.  You are also encouraged to get a PCR test from a community testing centre or healthcare provider. PCR tests provide valuable information about potential new variants of COVID-19 in New Zealand. Please tell the person who does your test that you have recently been overseas. You can find out where to get a PCR test at www.healthpoint.co.nz/covid-19. You can leave self-isolation to get a PCR.

If you develop symptoms more than 7 days after arriving in New Zealand, please do another RAT. You are not asked to do another PCR test.

People arriving in New Zealand by ship are not asked to test, if they don’t have any COVID symptoms.

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