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

Water is Canterbury’s most precious taonga

Friday 20 March 2015Media release4 minutes to read

Safe drinking water is something many of us in Canterbury take for granted. Dr Alistair Humphrey writes how this World Water Day on 22 March we need to think about how fortunate we are, and ask ourselves whether we are doing enough to keep our water safe for generations to come.

United Nations World Water Day is marked on 22 March every year. It's a day to reflect on just how much water plays a part in your life. From brushing your teeth, showering, washing, drinking, cooking, to the food and milk produced and consumed. Use this World Water Day to celebrate water.

Most importantly, it's a day to make a difference globally for people who suffer from water related issues. It's a day to consider how we can develop sustainably while maintaining and enhancing our water into the future.

Safe drinking water, available to everyone, is a fundamental requirement for health. In Christchurch we have been blessed with abundant, high quality, drinking water which, since it does not require treatment, saves the community a significant amount of money.

Canterbury's agricultural economic success owes a lot to easy access to water and irrigation. The movement from an agricultural economy largely dependent on sheep to the current dairy boom has seen huge increases in the quantities of water being used. This creates opportunities as well as risks.

In 1994 Canterbury had almost 10 million sheep and just over 200,000 dairy cows. However in the last 20 years, numbers of dairy cows had increased by a million to 1.2 million, while the number of sheep had nearly halved.

The explosion of the dairy industry has had a huge impact on the amount water used on our farms. It's estimated 1084 litres of water is needed to produce two litres of milk. Not only does this water need to come from somewhere, it needs to go somewhere once the cow is finished with it.

Cows are big drinkers and their urine is full of nitrates. It's important we continue to put in measures to mitigate the amount of nitrates going into the ground. Once nitrate contaminates groundwater it is very difficult and very expensive to remove.

Land use in Canterbury will continue to change along with the global environment and economy. Care must be taken to ensure land use decisions support economic growth, the environment and people without creating adverse health outcomes.

We all want clean, healthy rivers and lakes for us all to enjoy. It is important that fish life and native vegetation is able to thrive and we can swim without worrying about getting sick. We all have a part to play in ensuring it happens. In addition, we need to ensure we are all efficient users of water.

As a region we need to make sure we have the balance right between developing our economy and protecting and enhancing our environment. Environment Canterbury plays a key role in facilitating this conversation, particularly through the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS) which aims to find the best uses of water within an environmentally sustainable framework. Many sectors are involved including Public health expertise from the Canterbury DHB.

As individuals there are easy things we all can do to look after our water:

Get involved. Take an interest in your local water committees (, attend meetings, and make submissions. Express your opinions to committee members – they are expected to reflect community views so need to know what you think.
Check out the water supply parts of your council's long term plans and make submissions if necessary.
Check with your Iwi if you can be involved in projects to protect water quality and gathering of kai moana/mahinga kai
Report polluted waterways to the Pollution hot line (0800 76 55 88)
Support local organisations involved in water protection and enhancement
If you're at school, ask your teacher if your class can explore one of the seven themes.
Adopt an area of a river bank and keep it clear of rubbish.
Ask your local public health unit for information on recreational and drinking water in your area.
If you do nothing else, make sure you take a minute on World Water Day to think about the water you use every day, and what your life would be like if it wasn't clean, safe and plentiful.


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Page last updated: 19 December 2018

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