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Brought to you by Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora – Southern and WellSouth primary health network

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I need to travel for my hospital stay

Plan ahead to arrange travel and any accommodation you might need before you are admitted to hospital or attend an appointment. The National Travel Assistance programme may be able to assist.

Accommodation / Te Whare Whānau

Information pamphlets are found at the Enquiries Desk, Dunedin Hospital and on the wards at Wakari Hospital. Hospital social workers are available to assist. See specific hospitals for further information.

Getting to the hospital

It is advisable to arrange for a family member or friend to take you to the hospital or use public transport. There is no parking available for inpatients at the hospital. You will also need to arrange transport home after your hospital stay.

Finding out about National Travel Assistance

National Travel Assistance (NTA) is a government-provided scheme that means eligible patients may be able to claim for travel and accommodation costs relating to their care. It is aimed at patients who need to travel long distances, or frequently, for their care. See the full eligibility criteria, and the current reimbursement rates, at National Travel Assistance – Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand

To register for NTA support, please contact your local NTA coordinator.

  • If you live in Southland or Queenstown-Lakes, phone Southland Hospital on 03 470 9584 or 0800 682 734
  • If you live in Otago, Oamaru or Central Otago phone Dunedin Hospital 03 470 9438 or 0800 600 020
  • If you live outside of Otago or Southland, please contact your local hospital to arrange NTA support before coming to Dunedin for your operation. They will require details of your Community Services Card to register you so please have these on hand.  
Arranging your accommodation

If you have an early operation time, you will need to arrange accommodation for the previous night. If you are bringing a support person, you will need to arrange accommodation for them. If you qualify for support and are staying in commercial accommodation such as a motel, hotel or hostel, the National Travel Assistance programme may be able to contribute to costs.

In specific situations, Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora - Southern can support accommodation for the family/whānau of those in our care. These include:

Ronald McDonald Family Room - Southland Hospital
There are four short-stay rooms for the caregivers of critically ill children when it‘s imperative they remain just moments away from their hospitalised child. These beds are allocated in consultation with hospital staff and are given on a greatest needs basis. The Ronald McDonald Family Room at Southland Hospital also provides a quiet space for families to relax and recharge just moments away from their hospitalised child.

Te Whare Whānau
The Māori Health Unit provides Te Whare Whānau (the Family Room) service. This is a short-term accommodation option (1-3 nights) available to your family/whānau members living outside the Invercargill boundary when you are receiving hospital care. In Dunedin, Te Whare Whānau provide accommodation for up to two whānau of critically ill patients. For enquiries to access Te Whare Whānau room, please ask the nursing staff looking after you to contact the unit or Security.

Organising transport to and from the hospital

There are a number of transport options available across the district to bring you to Dunedin Hospital.

If you live in Southland:

  • The St John Shuttle runs Monday to Friday between Dunedin and Invercargill. Phone 0800 103 046 to book

If you live in Central Otago:

  • The St John Shuttle runs Monday to Friday between Dunedin and Cromwell. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday it travels via Milton; and on Tuesday and Thursday it travels via Palmerston. There are designated drop off points along the way. Phone 0800 785 276 to book

If you live in North Otago:

  • Coast Line Tours runs Monday to Friday from Oamaru. Phone 027 256 5651 to book.

If you are in the Dunedin area: 

  • The Red Cross may be able to help with transport needs. Please talk with your GP about arranging a referral.

If you do not drive or have no one able to drive you and you meet the NTA criteria, NTA will fund transport on a public shuttle. You need to book this yourself and claim reimbursement from NTA. If you need assistance to pay for this please contact WINZ to see if they can help.