Resthome providers say many resthomes in Christchurch have been damaged by this week's earthquake and face a very difficult time.
Two rest homes were emptied of residents on Thursday because of structural problems.
The Canterbury District Health Board's chief medical officer, Nigel Millar, says more rest home residents could be moved over the next few days.
He says a number of rest homes residents have been moved to Nelson, and it may be necessary to move other residents around the South Island and possibly further afield.
Nigel Millar says moving elderly rest home residents is not something that's undertaken lightly, but it will be done if their safety is thought to be at risk.
The Aged Care Association says there are 105 resthomes in Christchurch and about a quarter are in the eastern part of the city that has been badly affected.