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

Preparing for your visit

COVID-19 visitor restrictions

Most hospitals now have restrictions on the number of visitors and support people allowed. Patients and visitors should view the COVID-19 visiting restrictions for more details about the visiting restrictions at the specific hospital they are visiting.

Find out how to prepare for your visit to Christchurch Hospital or another hospital in Canterbury, including a printable list of what to bring to hospital, advice on the kind of support you may need while in hospital and questions that you may want to ask staff while in hospital. You can find more specific advice and information on our Child Health, Maternity, Mental Health, and Older Persons’ Health pages.

To those whanau members who would normally visit their family member in hospital

We are sorry that we have to restrict visiting, but this necessary measure is to protect you and the vulnerable people already in hospital from the spread of COVID-19. We understand it will be difficult for you to be unable to provide the support you normally would, but please be assured people are being well cared for and we will do our best to help you keep up-to-date and in touch.

For those who don’t have their own phone or device, each ward has a simple portable phone (not a smartphone) they will be able to use. If you want to know how a patient is, please call our patient enquiry phone line.

  • Bring remote contact details (eg: phone number, Facebook messenger, Zoom/Skype, WhatsApp) to be able to connect with family/whanau or friends for support, which can include during consultation with staff
  • Staff will introduce themselves, explain their role and work with you and your family to understand what matters to you with your health care
  • You make decisions about your own treatment
  • Learn about hand hygiene and other tips to keep healthy and well

P.L.A.N. for your visit. P.L.A.N. stands for:

Prepare for your visit

  • Did you know you can have a support person and ask for a translator available to you via telephone (during this time while no visitors are allowed).
  • Make a list of your medicines and supplements

Listen and share

  • Say if you don’t understand and if a drawing could help
  • Say if you’re having problems with your medicines or treatment, or can’t afford them
  • Is there anything else you can tell your doctor or nurse about your health?

Ask questions

  • What is my health problem?
  • What happens next?
  • Why is that important?
  • Are there any other options?
  • What can I do to help with my health?

Note down what you need to do next

  • Interpreters are available if English is not your first language or you have hearing loss
  • If you have to travel to get to hospital, accommodation may be available for you and whānau members who travel with you

If you already have an appointment confirmed with a Canterbury DHB health service you can contact us about your appointment using the email address or telephone number on your appointment letter. If you do not have the letter available you can also contact our appointments team by selecting "Enquiry" and "Appointment Enquiries" on our contact form.

Please remember that unless stated on your appointment letter, your regular doctor is your central point of contact for all your health needs, and your GP team can contact hospital departments and specialists if something happens that affects your hospital appointment or treatment.

If you need to cancel your surgery or appointment, please call the phone number on your appointment letter as soon as possible and let the department know.

Postponed surgeries

Emergencies sometimes require us to postpone your booking at short notice. We may have to postpone your surgery even after you have been admitted. Our staff will do everything possible to avoid postponing any treatment. However if this occurs and if surgery is absolutely essential, you will be re-booked into the next available time.

Please do not bring any valuables into the hospital unless absolutely necessary (including valuable items of clothing). If necessary, we may be able to store valuables and money in a locked cupboard or deposit them in the hospital safe. Any personal belongings you bring into the hospital are at your own risk. Canterbury DHB does not accept any responsibility for any personal items that you bring into hospital.

Everybody coming to hospital, bring:

  • Comfortable day clothes
  • Supportive well-fitting footwear with closed back, low heel and non-slip sole
  • Glasses, hearing aids and dentures. Bring the cases for your glasses and hearing aid so you can put them away safely
  • If you have equipment to support your mobility such as a walking aid, please name this and bring it with you
  • Book/eBook reader/tablet/mobile phone, headphones, charger and you can use our free patient wi-fi service.

Please note: When using electronic devices in hospitals:

  • Be respectful of others and turn the volume down or use headphones
  • Mobile devices interfere with medical equipment at close range - all mobile phones must be turned off when within 1 metre of medical equipment


  • Bring your medicines (including medicines bought at the supermarket and pharmacy, and complementary, alternative or natural therapies), especially if you have to come to hospital unexpectedly
  • Bring your medication list (yellow card) if you have one
  • The medications will not be used while you stay in hospital, except as a temporary measure until we can obtain a supply. We will then store your own medications in a dedicated area on the ward
  • If you have any questions, please talk to your nurse, doctor, or the ward pharmacist

Patients staying overnight (inpatients), bring:

  • We recommend you name any personal items you need to bring into hospital for your stay
  • Night-dress or pyjamas for sleeping. You can also bring your own pillow and pillowcase (we provide blue pillowcases for your head)
  • Toiletry items, such as toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.
  • Spare clothes
  • Please bring enough changes of clothing for the length of your stay, we also suggest you bring an extra bag for your laundry
  • If you wear dentures, please bring your cleaning container
  • If you live alone, cancel services such as Meals on Wheels, home help and newspaper delivery for the time you are in hospital
  • Ask a trusted neighbour or friend to collect your mail

Please don’t bring:

  • Valuable items such as jewellery or large sums of money
  • Smoking and vaping equipment as it is not allowed. We can help you be smoke free while in hospital.

Print or download a checklist: What to bring to hospital (PDF, 150KB)

Please bring any documents with you that explain how you want us to care for you, including:

  • Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA). If you have an EPA it is important you let us know in case the need arises
  • Advance Care Plan (ACP) or Advanced Directives
  • Any Acute Plans or Personalised Care Plans you may have with your health care team
  • Health Passport


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

Referrals are often a part of a treatment process, specifically a referral is when your family doctor (General Practice team) or another health professional such as a physiotherapist will refer you to a specialist. This is usually because your doctor wants a specialist’s help in deciding on the best way to treat your condition. This might involve referring you for tests or investigations that cannot be carried out by your general practice team.

Referrals are also possible if patients or their family/whānau ask for a second opinion, or treatment to be provided by another health professional.

Self-referrals: A few specialist health services such as the Sexual Health Clinic accept "self-referrals". A self-referral is when you either "walk-in" or book an appointment directly with the health service provider, rather than your family doctor or a health professional doing this on your behalf.

In an emergency call 111 or go to your nearest emergency department.

Your general practice team (GP) are the best people to talk to about your health.

Your regular doctor or health clinic is your central point of contact for all your health needs, including:

  • Before you come to hospital
  • While you are having treatment involving regular hospital visits
  • After you leave hospital

Your GP team can contact hospital departments and specialists if something happens that affects your hospital appointment or treatment.

Hospital staff only prescribe medication related to the condition you are in hospital for. For any other medications and regular prescriptions, talk to your GP team.

Watch our two-minute safety video

If you are using an older browser and cannot see the video above, it can be viewed on instead.

Page last updated: 1 March 2022

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