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

Can I get cheaper healthcare or free healthcare?

Some healthcare services in New Zealand are free or subsidised by the government for New Zealand citizens and residents, refugees, and people who have work visas for two years or longer.

More services are free or subsidised for people who meet certain criteria. You can find detailed information on whether you or your whānau are eligible on the Ministry of Health website.

Doctor and nurse appointments

General practice (GP) visits are cheaper if you enrol at the clinic you are visiting.

If you have been to at least 12 health appointments in the last 12 months for ongoing medical conditions, you may be eligible for a High Use Health Card, which gives you discounts for some health visits and prescriptions.

Mothers and babies

You can get free maternity care during your pregnancy and for six weeks after your baby is born.

Babies and children up to five years old can get a series of free health checks from a Well Child Tamariki Ora provider.


Zero fees for under-13s

Most GPs and after hours clinics offer free appointments and prescriptions for children under 13 years old. We expect that from December 2018, free visits will be available for children under 14 years old.

Dental care

Children and teenagers get free basic dental service up until their 18th birthday.

Sexual health and family planning

Most cities and large towns have free sexual health and family planning clinics. These clinics offer free contraception, advice, and tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Older people

Work and Income may be able to help pay for residential care or other health and disability needs.

SuperGold Card holders can get discounts at some healthcare providers.


The government subsidises many medications. There is a $5 charge per prescription for these medicines.

Some medicines are not subsidised or only partially subsidised and will cost more.

If your family has collected 20 or more prescriptions in a year, you can get a prescription subsidy, which means you won’t have to pay any more prescription charges until February the following year.

Injuries and ACC

ACC helps pay for treatment of accidental injuries. ACC compensation is available to anyone in New Zealand including citizens, residents, and visitors. Find out more at the ACC website.

Community Services Card

A community services card will make some health services cheaper, such as doctor’s visits, prescriptions, emergency dental care, and glasses for children.

You may be eligible for a community services card if you are on low-to-middle-income.

Other types of healthcare assistance

If you have a disability or long-term health condition, or have had an injury or surgery, you may be eligible for help paying for care. Talk to your GP team or Work and Income to find out more.


Page last updated: 12 April 2019

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