Hospital visiting guidelines updated 20 July 2022: Hospital visitors must wear a surgical/medical paper mask. Fabric face coverings are no longer acceptable. See our COVID-19 pages for detailed information about hospital visiting guidelines, COVID-19 tests and care in the community advice. See for information about vaccinations.

We are at ORANGE according to the NZ COVID-19 Protection Framework

Last updated:
20 July 2022

Mask exemptions accepted for people seeking treatment
Any member of the public with a mask exemption is welcome in all our facilities when attending to receive health care and *treatment. Please show your mask exemption card and appointment letter to staff at the entrance.

*Treatment includes: coming into the Emergency Department, outpatient appointments,  surgery or a procedure.

For visitors to all facilities effective from Wednesday 20 July 2022

With the recent resurgence in cases in Canterbury, largely due to the Omicron BA.5 subvariant we are seeing an increase in demand right across the health system. Presentations to our Christchurch ED and Ashburton’s AAU are higher than ever and admission rates are high, which means we have a shortage of resourced beds.

Recently, we have seen too many unwell people coming to visit someone in hospital and too many that cannot or will not wear a medical mask. This increases the risk to vulnerable people in hospital. For these reasons we need to everything we can to minimise these risks.

We have therefore tightened visitor restrictions for all Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury hospitals and health facilities.

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

  • One visitor per patient in the hospital at any given time, except where stated otherwise in the ‘exceptions’ section below.
  • No visitors under 16 to any part of our facilities.
  • No visitors to COVID +ve patients other than in exceptional circumstances.
  • No eating or drinking at the bedside or anywhere other than cafes or areas designated for eating/drinking, as taking your mask off puts patients at risk.
  • Visitors or support people must not visit our facilities if they are unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms (even if they have tested negative) or have had a recent tummy bug.
  • Do not visit if you are COVID +ve or a household contact of someone who has tested positive
  • Surgical/medical masks must be worn at all times at all sites and will be provided if people don’t have them. Mask exemptions do not apply in our facilities – people who cannot tolerate a mask cannot visit at this time.
  • Hand sanitiser stations are visible and must be used.

By sticking to the rules above, you help keep our patients, staff, other visitors and yourself safe. We 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.

Exceptions to the ‘one visitor’ policy

  • Exceptions can apply in some circumstances where trusted whānau members provide assistance, reassurance and other support for therapeutic care or on compassionate grounds – please talk to the ward’s Charge Nurse to discuss this before you come to hospital to visit. For whānau with an essential support role as a Partner in Care – again, please check with the ward’s Charge Nurse before you come to hospital to visit.
  • People attending Christchurch ED or Ashburton AAU can have one support person with them.
  • Women in labour and in the birthing suite can have two named support people + their community LMC/midwife if they have one – for the duration of the birth only. All other women on the Maternity Ward are allowed one support person for the duration of their stay in our facilities at Christchurch Women’s Hospital and other maternity units. Only one support person can be with each woman in the maternity ward, and one support person for maternity clinic appointments. No under 16s are allowed to visit or attend appointments.
  • Parents/caregivers can be with their baby in NICU.
  • Parents/caregivers are able to be with their child in hospital (Except Children’s Haematology and Oncology Day patients where only one parent or caregiver is permitted).
  • People requiring support when attending an appointment can have one support person. Please let the relevant service know if you need this so they are able to accommodate your request.

Visiting patients with COVID-19

  • To avoid them becoming infected with COVID-19 and passing it one, visitors to COVID-19 positive patients will not be allowed except in extenuating circumstances – by prior agreement with the Charge Nurse Manager only, and wearing an N95 mask.
  • Other methods of communication will be facilitated e.g. phone, facetime, zoom etc.

You must NOT visit the hospital if you

  • are a household contact of a COVID-19 positive case
  • are COVID-19 positive
  • Have a cold or flu/COVID-19-like symptoms (even if you are testing negative for COVID-19)

Exceptions for people with disabilities

An exception will be made for people with disabilities who are in hospital or have to attend an outpatient appointment – where they need a support person to access health services. For example, a sign language interpreter, support person for someone with a learning disability, or someone to assist with mobility. The support person is in addition to the one permitted visitor.

Everyone visiting our facilities must wear a mask, no exceptions

While we appreciate that some people have legitimate reasons for being exempt from wearing a mask and may even have an official card to confirm this, people who cannot or will not wear a mask cannot visit someone in hospital or attend hospital, other than to access healthcare treatment*. This is another measure to minimise the risk to vulnerable patients.

*healthcare treatment includes: Emergency Department care, outpatient appointments, surgery or a procedure. 

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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