Hospital visiting guidelines updated 16 September 2022: Hospital visitors must wear a surgical/medical paper mask. Fabric face coverings are not acceptable.  See our COVID-19 page for general COVID-19 advice, detailed hospital visiting guidelines and COVID-19 tests.

See for info on vaccinations.

Last updated:
16 September 2022

Fewer visitor restrictions now apply

For visitors to all facilities effective from 16 September 2022

Some visitor restrictions for all Te Whatu Ora Te Tai o Poutini West Coast health facilities remain in place, but we have relaxed others.

There is still a heightened risk to vulnerable people in hospital and so people must continue to wear a mask when visiting any of our facilities and follow other advice designed to keep patients, staff and other visitors safe.

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

  • Visitors or support people must not visit our facilities if they are unwell. Do not visit if you have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and haven’t completed your isolation period.
  • Patients in single rooms may have more than one visitor while patients in multi-bed rooms can have one visitor only per patient to ensure there is no overcrowding.
  • People can have one or two support people to accompany them to outpatients appointments.
  • Women in labour in a birthing suite, in Te Nīkau Hospital’s Maternity Ward and in Buller’s Kawatiri Maternity Unit can have the usual support people, subject to space, for the duration of their stay in our facilities.
  • Eating or drinking at the bedside is at the discretion of the Clinical Nurse Manager. Visitors must not eat or drink in multibed rooms because of the increased risk when multiple people remove their mask in the same space.
  • Hand sanitiser is available and must be used.

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.

Mask wearing

  • Surgical/medical masks must be worn at all sites, except in counselling, mental health and addiction services where it’s on a case-by-case agreement with patients. Masks will be provided if you don’t have one. In higher-risk environments, people, including young children, may not be able to visit if they cannot wear a mask.
  • 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.

Visiting patients with COVID-19

  • People are able to visit patients who have COVID-19 but they must wear an N95 mask – this will be provided if you don’t have one.
  • Other methods of communication will be facilitated e.g. phone, Facetime, Zoom, WhatsApp etc where visits aren’t possible.

You must NOT visit our facilities if you

  • are COVID-19 positive
  • are unwell. Please stay home if you have a tummy bug or cold or flu/COVID-19-like symptoms (even if you’ve tested negative for COVID-19).

Te Whatu Ora West Coast Aged Residential Care facilities

Visitors are welcome at our Aged Care Residential facilities, subject to the space available. All visitors must wear a surgical mask.

More COVID-19 information

All services moving back to Buller Health this Sunday

Friday 19 August 2022Health news5 minutes to read

On Sunday 21 August, all health services currently based in Westport’s Masonic Lodge will be relocating back to the Buller Health facility on Cobden Street.

  • From midday on Sunday, our urgent patient stabilisation and observation services will be operating as normal from our Buller Health facility. Hours are 7am – 11pm daily with the doors closing at 10pm.
  • Buller Medical Centre will be holding its usual Sunday clinic from 2pm to 4pm from the medical centre. Normal invoicing will be reinstated at this time.
  • Community Services and District Nursing will return on Sunday morning.

Te Whatu Ora Te Tai o Poutini Incident Manager Philip Wheble says until the team heads back to the Buller Health facility on Sunday, health care services remain available at the Masonic Lodge at 51 Russell St, Westport.

“If you need an GP or Nurse Practitioner appointment, to renew a script or to get test results, the Buller Medical Centre team is just a phone call away. Please call the team on 03 788 9277 during week day opening hours (Monday – Friday; 8:45am – 5:00pm). Urgent/acute services are available between 7am – 11pm with St John providing after-hours PRIME cover.”

“Our team on the ground in Buller has put in an outstanding effort over the past week to ensure that health services remain accessible.

“When the Health Centre was evacuated as a precautionary measure on 17 August, Westport’s Masonic Lodge became the temporary base for all clinical services including Buller Medical Centre. Westport Kindergarten also became the temporary home for our Buller-based Emergency Operations Centre staff along with the administration team.

“A special thanks to the owners of the Masonic Lodge and the Westport Kindergarten who have allowed us to use their buildings to ensure health care services could continue to be provided to the Buller community,” says Mr Wheble.

For non-urgent health care, you should call your own general practice team (Coast Medical on 03 789 5000 or Buller Medical Centre on 03 788 9277). After-hours follow the instructions to be transferred to a nurse who can provide free health advice.

If you or anyone you know needs health advice, you can also call Healthline on 0800 611 116 – calls are answered 24/7. If you need to be seen, they will tell you what to do and where to go.

Remember, if you are injured or experiencing severe symptoms, it’s critical that you call 111.

“We know that supporting wellbeing, and managing anxiety will be ongoing for a community who are facing yet another recovery after such a significant event. We are looking at ways to ensure that access to mental health and wellbeing support services in Westport are increased.

“If you’re feeling overwhelmed, not sleeping, and feeling anxious all the time please seek help from your own General Practice team.”

Finally, here are some useful numbers for organisations who can help.

Useful health care contacts

  • For wellbeing supportyou can talk to a counsellor free of charge, call or text 1737 any time of the day or night.
  • For pregnancy support and advice over the phone, please call your LMC/midwife.
  • If you have questions about your young child or baby’s health phone Plunketline on 0800 933 922 to speak to a Plunket nurse.
  • You can also visit our HealthInfo website for trusted health advice on a range of issues.
  • If you require essential prescription medications and your supply is running low, call your usual GP number for advice – Find a GP, medical practice, clinic or health centre | West Coast DHB (
  • Buller Pharmacy in Westport, at 168 Palmerston Street is open for over the counter medications and health advice. Phone (03) 789 7629.
  • Talk confidentially about a meth or P-related issue or problem – 0800 METH HELP 0800 6384 4357.
  • The Alcohol Drug Helpline offers support to anyone concerned about their own or someone else’s drug or alcohol use 0800 787 797.

Public health advice

A reminder from our public health team – please treat all flood water as contaminated.

Sewage may be mixed with flood waters and can cause serious illness.

That means you need to wash your hands thoroughly or use hand gel after coming into contact with flood water.

Wherever you are, please remember the usual public health precautions such as good cough and sneeze etiquette, hand hygiene and continuing to wear a mask especially indoors.

If you develop any COVID-19 symptoms, please take a RAT (rapid antigen test). If you test positive for COVID-19 and it is safe to do so, please remain isolated at home or in the accommodation where you are staying. If you’re not sure what you should do, please call the COVID-19 line on 0800 358 5453 for advice.

RATs are available across the Coast. There is no criteria, you don’t need to be unwell or have symptoms. Anyone who needs RATs can collect free packs for you and your whānau from a RAT collection site.

RAT collection site details are available online at: COVID-19 Testing • West Coast • Healthpoint

Meals on wheels

Meals on Wheels continues to be provided by our Buller-based WellFood team along with our valued Red Cross volunteers who deliver the meals to recipients in the community.

Stay up-to-date

For the latest updates, ‘like’ your local Te Whatu Ora and District Councils Facebook pages, or check the latest news on their websites:

Weather conditions

To get the most up to date information on severe weather around the country, or any other forecasts, see or download the MetService mobile app.

Road conditions

If you need to travel for any reason, please ensure that you check the road conditions prior to departing.



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Page last updated: 19 August 2022

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