All hospital visitors are recommended to wear a medical face mask. Expand this message for information about visiting hospital.

Last updated:
13 March 2023

Some visitor restrictions for all Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury hospitals and health facilities remain in place, but we have relaxed others.

There is still a heightened risk to vulnerable people in hospital and so we recommend all people wear a mask when visiting any of our facilities and follow other advice designed to keep patients, staff and  visitors safe.

Kia whakahaumaru te whānau, me ngā iwi katoa – this is to keep everybody safe:

  • Visitors or support people must not visit our facilities if they are unwell. Do not visit if you have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and haven’t completed your isolation period.
  • Patients may have more than one visitor, except in some situations such as multi-bed rooms where it can cause overcrowding.
  • Surgical/medical masks are recommended be worn at all sites. Masks will be provided if you don’t have one.
  • For Specialist Mental Health Services everyone is strongly encouraged to wear a face mask in all inpatient areas and areas where consumers are receiving care (i.e. community appointments, home-visits, transporting people). Discretion may be applied in cases where masks impair your ability to communicate effectively.
  • Visitors must not eat or drink in multibed rooms because of the increased risk when multiple people remove their face mask in the same space.
  • Hand sanitiser is available and must be used.

Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as our staff work hard to protect and care for some of the most vulnerable in our community.

Visiting patients with COVID-19

  • People can visit patients who have COVID-19 but they must wear an N95 mask – this will be provided if you don’t have one.
  • Other methods of communication will be facilitated e.g. phone, Facetime, Zoom, WhatsApp etc where visits aren’t possible.

All of our Hospitals

Visiting hours for our hospitals have returned to pre COVID-19 hours with the exception of Christchurch Women’s Hospital.

All visitors are recommended to wear a medical face mask.

Parents/caregivers are able to be with their child in hospital and visitors are now allowed, except for the Children’s Haematology and Oncology Day stay where just one parent/caregiver is able to attend their appointment with their child. Exceptions by special arrangement only.

Patients and visitors should also read the additional more detailed visiting guidelines for each specific hospital.

More COVID-19 information

Hyperbaric Medicine

The Christchurch Hyperbaric Medicine Unit treats a range of conditions ranging from decompression sickness and air embolism through to radiation injury and hypoxic problem wounds.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy delivers oxygen under pressure to body tissues. The combination of pressure and high partial pressures of oxygen are the primary treatment for decompression sickness and arterial gas embolism. This form of therapy is a very useful adjunct to medical and surgical care in other conditions such as radiation injury and hypoxic problem wounds. The oxygen speeds up new microscopic blood vessel growth in certain types of wound and improves the ability of white blood cells to kill germs.


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.


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 Practice and Anaesthesia) 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. Lorraine Angus is our current Charge Nurse.


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.

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 Women's Hospital redevelopment. We now have a double compartment 6-person recompression chamber for treatment with hyperbaric oxygen, with permanent medical, nursing and technical staff.

In November 2017 the chamber underwent a major upgrade. The panel was upgraded to a fully electronic system and the chamber interior was refurbished.

Diving accidents in New Zealand

Read here for more information on diving accidents.

For medical assistance contact the Diver Emergency Service: 0800 4DES 111 e.g. 0800 4337 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 HealthPathways

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


Page last updated: 28 June 2022

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