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

Help for you

Unable to visit someone in hospital? We can help you stay connected.

Email your message/pictures to stating who it is from, who it is for and which hospital/ward they are in. Our volunteers will make sure your message gets to them.

An Interpreter Service is available if you do not speak English as your first language or have hearing loss and use NZ Sign Language. Please discuss with a member of your healthcare team (e.g. nurse, doctor) to arrange an interpreter.

For areas outside Christchurch City (such as for Ashburton Hospital, Kaikōura Health, and other rural hospitals), ask staff about interpreters.

The Canterbury DHB interpreter service is:

If no Canterbury DHB interpreter is available, staff will contact a community provider or the Interpreting NZ Telephone Service.

Language interpreters do not translate papers or documents.

If you have health documents in another language, you can arrange to translate them through credentialed translation provider MLT Translation Centre, or ask a member of your health care team to arrange this.

If you or your family need accommodation during your treatment period, you should discuss this with your regular health care team in your home town. A social worker or the person in charge of your care can give you accommodation information.

Hauora Māori Māori Health Services also runs a low-cost whānau accommodation service for those eligible.

The hospital chaplains have been theologically and clinically trained and licenced to work in a hospital.

The chaplaincy team offers confidential compassionate support, prayer, and a listening ear in times of stress or loneliness; before and after surgery; for people experiencing loss and bereavement and around matters of faith and illness; and in celebrating the joys of life. They are available for prayer and church sacraments.

Many hospitals have an interfaith chapel, or a quiet place for prayer and reflection.

The chaplains are available to people of all faiths and no faith, and are here to support people of all religions and cultures. They can also contact your own religious or spiritual advisor and ask them to visit (Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.).

Arrange a visit from a chaplain

Your nurse, social worker, ward clerk or doctor can arrange for a chaplain to visit you, or you can ask to speak with a chaplain when you see them in the ward.

Blessing, rituals and ceremonies

Hospital chaplains provide appropriate blessing rituals for patients, their families and staff. This includes blessing rooms after death, equipment, wards, and workplaces.

Hauora Māori - Māori health services in Canterbury give patients and whānau culturally appropriate advice and support.

Specially trained staff give āwhina/help and tautoko/support with cultural issues and education on tikanga (values and beliefs). The service can also help you find organisations and resources to support your recovery.

The services available are:

  • Hauora Māori – Māori Health Services (formerly known as Ngā Ratonga Hauora Māori) at Christchurch Hospital - 03 364 0640, ext. 86160
  • Ranga Hauora and Te Huarahi Oranga at Burwood Hospital - Kaiwhakahaere 03 337 7899 or Awhina 03 383 7552
  • Te Korowai Atawhai at Hillmorton Hospital - 03 339 2864
  • Diabetes and Cardio Respiratory Integrated Specialist Services (CRISS) Māori health workers - 03 364 0860
  • Haematology Māori health nurse

Staff can sometimes arrange video conferences with your GP or practice nurse and family.

A video consultation uses a video link to allow you and your health care professional (clinician) to see and hear each other, even though you are not in the same place. They can save you time, money and may be preferred if you can’t travel far.

Things to remember for a video conference:

  • Make sure you go to the right place
  • Bring a whānau/family member or support person if you want
  • Arrive 15 minutes early
  • Bring test results, medications, and x-rays with you if mentioned in your appointment letter
  • Speak in your normal voice
  • Ask questions at any time
  • Let your clinician know if you can’t see or hear them clearly

Tell your clinician if you want to end the video conference at any time

If you have concerns about your care, you can talk to staff, managers, customer support, or the Consumer Advocacy Service.

Staff and support services are available to help you when you have a bereavement.


Visit the Healthinfo website for advice on what to do when someone dies.

General Practice team/family doctor

You may qualify for funded short term counselling sessions through your GP.

The Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand

Many funeral homes offer grief support and information.



National organisation offering support services, information, counselling and support groups.

Phone: 0800 299 100

Nurse Maude

Bereavement support and grief counselling services.

Phone: 03 375 4274


24-hour community helpline.

Phone: 0800 543 354

Victim Support

24-hour support for people affected by crime or trauma
Phone: 0800 842 846

At some of our hospitals there may be volunteers who help patients, visitors and staff in a variety of ways including:

  • Helping you find your way around the hospital
  • Providing gift and library book trolley services
  • Running the hospital gift shop
  • Giving company to patients
  • Assisting with play therapy and pet therapy
  • Delivering flowers or packages
  • Assisting with other tasks such as calling taxis and reading
  • Fundraising

How to become a volunteer

There are many ways you can make a difference through a role that matches your skills, interests and availability.

Enquiries for volunteering at Burwood Hospital:
Phone: 03 383 9499    

Enquiries for volunteering at Christchurch Hospital:
Facebook: Christchurch Hospital Volunteers

If you would like to volunteer at one of our other sites or services, please contact that site or service directly.

Free public Wi-Fi internet access is available in most Canterbury DHB hospital areas.

Please be respectful when using your electronic devices in hospitals – turn the volume down or use headphones.

Instructions to use the free Wi-Fi service

  1. When you turn on your Wi-Fi on your mobile device or laptop computer, select “DHB Public Wi-Fi” from the list of options.
  2. Your device should automatically open a web page where you can accept the terms and conditions.
  3. You will be able to browse the internet or access your emails.

For more information read our Wi-Fi FAQs below or view more information about Connecting to DHB Public Wi-Fi Mobile devices.

Wi-Fi Frequently Asked Questions

Which Canterbury DHB sites provide free public Wi-Fi?

Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch Women's and outpatient areas have the free service. Some areas of Burwood and Hillmorton Hospitals also have free public Wi-Fi.

Exclusions include the Great Escape Cafe in Christchurch Hospital and the University of Otago, Christchurch School of Medicine.

How will people know exactly where it is available?

There are signs, posters and other promotional materials to make it clear where the Wi-Fi service is available.

How easy is it to use and how reliable is the service?

The service is delivered over high-speed fibre infrastructure and is reliable. Priority is given to clinical data.

Who is paying for the service?

Canterbury DHB provides the infrastructure and 2degrees provides the internet feed.

What restrictions are there?

  • Sites and content deemed inappropriate will be blocked when using the service
  • It is not possible to download movies and other large files
  • Users can only access help through the Canterbury DHB website
  • Content accessed by people within Canterbury DHB facilities on their own network is subject to Canterbury DHB policy

TVs are available for patients and visitors to watch in patient lounges, waiting areas, and some wards and patient rooms.

TVs brought from home will not work in our hospitals. Patients and visitors are welcome to watch videos on their phones, tablets or notebook computers as long as they do not disturb other patients or staff.

Cafe opening hours are listed below, our hospital pages have additional details about shops and other facilities available at each site.

Ashburton Hospital

Burwood Hospital

Christchurch Hospital

Christchurch Women’s Hospital

Hillmorton Hospital

Kaikōura Health

The Princess Margaret Hospital

ALL hospitals and health facilities

Christchurch Hospital Campus:Opening hoursPass/IDAccess
Great Escape CaféMon-Fri: 07.00am to 19.30pm
Sat-Sun: 09.00am to 19.30pm
Not requiredStaff only
Willow Lane, WaipapaDaily 08.00am to 08.00pm Not requiredTake away only, no seating
Kanuka, OutpatientsMon-Fri 07.00am to 15.30pmNot requiredTake away only, no seating
PeaBerry, Waipapa
Mon-Fri 07.00am to 15.30pmNot requiredTake away only, no seating
Parkside Café
Mon-Fri 07.30am to 15.00pmNot requiredTake away only, no seating
Christchurch Women's Hospital CaféMon-Fri 07.30am to 15.00pm Not requiredTake away only, no seating
Ashburton Hospital Café08:00am to 15:30pmNot requiredNo restrictions
Burwood Travis Courtyard CaféOpen 08.00am to 16.00pmNot requiredNo restrictions
Hillmorton Hospital Avon Café08.00am to 15.00pmNot requiredStaff and consumers who are accompanied by a staff member

You can help your own recovery by learning about your condition on our HealthInfo Canterbury website.

You have the right to see your health record and other information Canterbury DHB holds about you.

There are three ways to request a copy of your medical record and patient info from the Patient Information Office:

Stop For Your Op

Te Hā - Waitaha Stop Smoking Canterbury offers free tailored stop smoking support to anyone in Canterbury. Free nicotine replacement patches, gum and lozenges are

Studies have shown better outcomes when patients stop smoking before surgery, including much lower rates of wound infection, cardiovascular complications, reduced hospital stay and lowered need for repeat surgery.

How long before your operation should you stop?

You should aim to be smoke and vape free for as long as possible prior to your

The earlier you stop the better, but shorter periods of smokefree time can still help.

Here are some of the benefits of quitting smoking:

  • Within 6 to 8 weeks lung function is improved, blood is less sticky and thick and blood flow improves. Your response to anaesthetic drugs will also improve.
  • Within 3 weeks wound healing has begun to improve.
  • Within 1 day delivery of oxygen to cells is improved.
  • Remaining smokefree after your surgery is the best thing you can do for your health. It is important you do not start smoking again, even if you only quit just before surgery. Allow your body time to recover and heal properly.

Remember to tell your surgeon and anaesthetist if you are currently smoking or vaping.

Contact Te Hā - Waitaha if you wish to quit: 0800 425 700 or


Crutches can be returned to the green bin located to the left hand side of the Christchurch Hospital main entrance doors. 

All other Physiotherapy (physio) and Occupational Therapy (OT) equipment can be returned by using in two cages also located to the left hand side of the Christchurch Hospital main entrance doors. 

Page last updated: 6 April 2022

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