West Coast District Health Board is investigating why a woman who was 34 weeks pregnant, was asked to drive across the Southern Alps while in premature labour.
Selina Malzard of Greymouth says she was asked to make the three-hour alpine trip to Christchurch, but refused because her car would not last the journey.
She was eventually flown to Christchurch but was told she would have to get a bus home after the contractions turned out to be false. She hired a rental car for the return journey.
Health board acting chief executive Joel George says women in premature labour are always sent to Christchurch because the West Coast does not have a specialist unit for premature babies.
The board says patients usually choose to drive themselves to specialist care in Christchurch, but it is investigating the complaint.
It is also looking into why vouchers for fast-food company McDonald's were in a kit given to Ms Malzard for her stay in Christchurch.