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

Christchurch Human Milk Bank celebrates seven years

Thursday 4 February 2021Media release3 minutes to read

Donor mother Kiri Backe-Hansen

Today marks seven years of Canterbury DHB’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) operating the first human milk bank in New Zealand.

The human milk bank opened in February 2014 and has been providing neonatal mothers and babies with breastmilk from generous donor mothers ever since.

The aim of the milk bank is to support mothers who wish to breastfeed by providing pasteurised donor milk in the first week after birth until their own supply of breast milk establishes.

In 2019, 919 babies were admitted to the Neonatal Unit and 40 percent of these babies were supported by the milk bank with pasteurised donor milk.

Neonatal Staff Nurse Schol Obery says the seven year anniversary is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the DHB’s maternity staff and donor mothers.

“Seven years ago, we launched the first human milk bank in New Zealand with the goal of supporting Canterbury mothers to be able to access breast milk.

“To watch it grow into a service that now even offers a pickup service has really been a career highlight for me.

“The generous support we have received from the community, Canterbury Neonatal Unit Trust and the absolutely brilliant donor mums has never waned. I want to acknowledge and thank everyone for all the hard work that has led us here to our 7 year anniversary,” says Schol.

The human milk bank has also been instrumental in establishing a milk donation and ‘milk banking’ virtual network across New Zealand and held their first virtual meeting in October 2020.

They have provided tours of the milk bank, provided resources on how to set up a milk bank and shared screening resources and milk bank operational guidelines to centres such as Wellington, Auckland, Palmerston North and Blenheim.

Fast facts:

  • When raw milk is donated, it is frozen, pasteurised, checked for bacteria and eventually given out to neonatal babies and some babies on the maternity ward.
  • Raw breast milk is accepted up to three months on from when it was first expressed and is frozen for another three months following pasteurisation. Pasteurised donor milk contains over 200 components that are useful for the growth and good health for a baby.
  • The milk assists babies to build a healthy immune system and acts as protection from serious gut infections. It contains easily digestible proteins, reduces the risk of bowel problems in preterm infants and contributes to a healthy nervous system and optimises brain growth.

If anyone is interested in becoming a donor, they should visit to find out how to get involved and help our Human Milk Bank.

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Page last updated: 4 February 2021

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