Using the NZ COVID Tracer app

How to get started with each of NZ COVID Tracer’s main functions.

Last updated: 18 October 2021

You can use the NZ COVID Tracer app to:

  • scan QR codes to create a private digital diary of the places you visit
  • use Bluetooth tracing to keep an anonymised record of the people you've been near
  • register your contact details so contact tracers can get in touch if they need to
  • save your National Health Index (NHI) number to speed up the process if you need a test
  • quickly find links to useful information such as your nearest testing centre, locations of interest, My Covid Record and Alert Level advice.

On this page:

Turn on Bluetooth tracing

Bluetooth tracing allows you to receive an alert if you've been near another app user who tests positive for COVID-19. It is safe, private, and anonymous.

You can turn on Bluetooth tracing on the app dashboard.

Read more about Bluetooth tracing.

Scan QR codes

Creating a private digital diary of the places you visit makes it easier to remember where you’ve been if you need to. Doing this by scanning QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app also allows you to receive a location alert if you visit the same place – at around the same time – as someone who later tests positive for COVID-19.

An NZ COVID Tracer QR code poster

Here is what a NZ COVID Tracer QR code poster looks like. Every business in New Zealand should have posters at or near every entrance, and at other places on the premises like the till, on tables or on a menu.

When you’re going somewhere and you see a QR code like this, open the NZ COVID Tracer app. The app icon for NZ COVID Tracer

Tap ‘Record a visit’ if it isn't already selected.

Point your phone at the QR code so it fits within the target area on your screen. Your phone will vibrate and a tick will appear to show you have successfully scanned the code and the entry has been saved.

An NZ COVID Tracer QR code in the app's viewfinder

Tap on the text box if you want to add any further details such as who you were with or what you were doing.

Then tap ‘Okay’ to close the screen. There is no need to sign out of a place with the app when you leave.

A success message after scanning a QR code

NZ COVID Tracer is designed to work with the official Ministry of Health QR codes only. The app will not recognise other QR codes.

The official QR code posters:

  • display the Ministry of Health logo
  • are surrounded by diagonal stripes
  • do not display any website URLs or direct you to a website when scanned.

If you’re concerned that a business does not appear to have a QR code on display, you can report this through the COVID-19 compliance centre. Read more about QR code and contact tracing requirements for businesses at business.govt.nz.

For other locations such as your visits to friends and whānau, you can keep track by adding a manual entry to your digital diary.

Add a manual diary entry

To add a manual diary entry:

  • Open the app and tap ‘Record a visit’ if it isn't already selected.
  • Tap ‘Add manual entry’ and simply fill in the form on the next screen. You can enter the place or activity, the arrival date and time, and any further important details.
  • Tap ‘Add entry’ once you've entered all the relevant details.
  • Then tap ‘Finish’ to close the screen. There is no need to sign out of a place with the app when you leave.

Using a previous scan

If you forget to scan, you can add a diary entry for any place that you’ve scanned in before. Adding a manual diary entry from an existing scan is as good as scanning in – it means you can get an early warning if you have come into contact with COVID-19.

Go to the Record a visit screen.

Tap on Add a diary entry manually.

Tap in to Place or activity and start typing. A list of recent locations where you’ve previously scanned will be displayed.

Tap on the name you want to add to your diary and select the time.

Tap on Add entry. This selection, along with all the location details associated with its QR code, will be added to your digital diary.

Using a previous location in your digital diary

Saving a location in your diary

You can save a location that you’ve scanned in to before and select it when manually adding a diary entry. A manual diary entry from a saved location is as good as scanning in - it means you can get an early warning if you have come into contact with COVID-19.

You can also save places you visit regularly which don't have a QR poster, such as your friend’s place or your own home.

Don’t save public transport or taxis. Every vehicle has a different code.

To save a location from a previous scan

  • Go to the My data tab and tap on Saved locations.
  • Select Save new.
  • Search for a name or address by typing it in or scrolling down. Your device will only be able to find locations you’ve scanned into in the last 60 days.
  • Tap the star next to the location name to save this location.
  • If you can’t find the location, you’ll need to add a written entry and scan the next time you go there. You can save the location after you’ve scanned a poster or added a diary entry manually.

To save a location from a written entry

  • Go to the My data tab and tap on Saved locations.
  • Tap on Save new.
  • Search for a name or address by typing it in or scrolling down. Your device will only be able to find locations you’ve entered in the last 60 days.
  • Tap the star next to the location name to save this location.
  • If you can’t find the location, you’ll need to add a written entry and save it.

View and edit your digital diary

You can view your digital diary at any time by:

  • tapping the icon on the top-left of the ‘Record a visit’ screen, or
  • tapping ‘My data’ along the bottom menu within the app, and then tapping ‘My diary’.

You can also edit or delete diary entries if you make a mistake or need to add extra details. First, tap on the diary entry to see its details. Then tap either ‘Edit’ or ‘Delete entry’. 

For QR code entries, you can add any details that might help with contact tracing, such as the names of the people you were with.

For manual entries, you can also edit the place, activity, time and date information for the entry.

Add a diary entry manually

Manage your notifications

The latest version of NZ COVID Tracer can help you keep your digital diary up to date by sending you reminders if you haven’t scanned or added an entry in a few days.

You can receive weekly reminders to keep your diary complete. You can also receive public health announcements from the Ministry of Health.

Manage the notifications you receive

  • To manage your notifications, go to the My data tab.
  • Select Notifications preferences.
  • You can turn Diary reminders on or off.
  • You can also turn Announcements on or off.
  • You cannot turn off Contact alerts as this function enables you to get an alert if you come into close contact with COVID-19.

Notification preferences

Register your information

Taking a minute to register your personal information and contact details makes it easier for contact tracers to get in touch if they need to. This is optional but strongly recommended.

To register your information:

  • Open the app ‘My data’.
  • Tap on ‘My contact details’ or ‘My address’. This will open a webpage outside of the app.
  • Enter your email address. A six-digit code will be sent to this address that will allow you to log into the webpage.
  • Within the webpage, tap on ‘Update details’ and follow the prompts (all information is optional)
  • Then tap ‘Update address’ and follow the prompts (all information is optional)
  • Close the webpage once you've finished registering your information.

Save your NHI number

If you need to visit a COVID-19 testing station, it's helpful to have your National Health Index (NHI) number with you, as this can help speed up the process. An NHI number is a unique identifier that is assigned to every person who uses health and disability support services in New Zealand.

You can save your NHI number within the NZ COVID Tracer app by going to the ‘My data’ screen and tapping on the ‘My NHI details’ option. You’ll then be prompted to enter you NHI number for easy access if you ever need a COVID-19 test.

You can find out your NHI by checking:

  • a prescription or prescription receipt
  • a prescription medicine bottle label
  • a hospital letter
  • an x-ray or test result
  • your ManageMyHealth profile (desktop website).

If you still can't find your NHI, try giving your general practitioner or pharmacist a call.

Tip: Find your nearest testing station by tapping the ‘Learn more’ tile on the app dashboard.

In this section

  • Bluetooth tracing allows you to create an anonymised record of the people you’ve been near. Scanning QR codes allow you to create a private record of the places you’ve been. Both are important for contact tracing. Bluetooth tracing is easy to use – you only need to turn it on once. Read more
  • There are two types of alert that you might get in NZ COVID Tracer if you have been exposed to COVID-19. There are also some notifications that are sent by your operating system that don’t indicate you have been exposed to COVID-19. Read more
  • The Ministry of Health allows the use of Near Field Communication (NFC) tags with the NZ Covid Tracer app to record diary entries instead of scanning QR codes. Read more
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, you will be called by a contact tracer. Their job is to find out where you might have caught it, and who else you might have exposed to the virus. They will also provide advice on self-isolation and check on your health and wellbeing. Read more
  • Further information about the NZ COVID Tracer app, including latest version, system requirements, how to update the app, and more. Read more
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