Hyperbaric Medicine

​The Christchurch Hyperbaric Medicine Unit treats a range of conditions ranging from decompression sickness, air embolism to diabetic wounds and tissue damage.

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment delivers oxygen under pressure to body tissue as a means of enhancing healing. The oxygen speeds up new microscopic blood vessel growth in the wound and improves the ability of white blood cells to kill germs.

Hyperbaric oxygen is adjunctive or additional therapy combined with medical and surgical care.


We are located on the lower-ground floor, Parkside West, Christchurch Hospital, near the western lifts.

Mission Statement

To provide high quality patient care based on a strong commitment to practice, education, research innovation and collaboration within the Hyperbaric Medicine Unit.

HMU Chamber web pic.JPG 


The following conditions are treated at the Hyperbaric Medicine Unit:


The Hyperbaric Medicine Unit is staffed by a team of:

  • Doctors, drawn from various departments (Emergency Medicine, General Practitioners (GP) and Anaesthetists) on a sessional basis, with Dr Greg van der Hulst as the Unit Clinical Director.

  • Technical Officers​, in charge of the equipment and hyperbaric chamber.

  • Registered Nurses both part time and casual, with ​Charge Nurse Manager Yvonne Denny​ 


Hyperbaric medicine began in Christchurch in 1973 with a trial of hyperbaric oxygen (HBOT) to enhance radiotherapy for patients with head and neck cancers. It was also used to treat acute problems such as decompression sickness, gas gangrene and carbon monoxide poisoning.

In the late 1970s, the local diving community raised the money for a dual-lock chamber which was donated to the North Canterbury Hospital Board. This operated at The Princess Margaret Hospital from October 1979  until 1994. Old Chamber.jpg

In late 1995, the chamber and associated plant were moved to Christchurch Hospital, allowing better access to core services such as radiology and intensive care. The unit provided emergency care and treated a few patients with problem wounds. In November 2000, the old chamber was replaced with a new, rectangular, walk-in chamber and permanent staff were appointed. This achieved the goal we set back in the early 1980s to establish the Christchurch unit as a major hyperbaric facility for New Zealand. 

In January 2004, the compressors and high pressure air receivers were moved into a purpose-built plant room, as part of the Christchurch Womens Hospital redevelopment. We now have a double compartment 6-person recompression chamber for treatment with hyperbaric oxygen, with permanent medical, nursing and technical staff.

Diving accidents

Read here for more information on diving accidents.

For medical assistance contact the Diver Emergency Service: 0800 4DES 111. Referrals are accepted from New Zealand south of Taupo.


We accept patient referrals from any medical practitioner or nurse in independent practice (such as rural nurse practitioners).

For information about how to refer patients from the community, see HealthPathways.

For in-patient referrals, see the Blue Book.

For referrers outside areas covered by HealthPathways and Blue Book, contact details area as follows:

03 364 0187 (int. ex. 80187)

03 364 0045 (int. ex. 80045)

Email: Charge Nurse

Hyperbaric Medicine Unit
Christchurch Hospital
Private Bag 4710


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Page last reviewed: 10 March 2017
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