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HealthInfo Aoraki-South Canterbury


Physiotherapists (or physios) help you improve movement and function lost from an injury, illness or long-term health condition. They can lodge ACC claims for you and refer you to specialists to look at specific issues.

While they're known for treating injuries, physios can also treat and prevent health problems involving joints, bones, soft tissues, the heart, the chest and lungs and the brain and nervous system.

Physios work in hospitals, medical centres, marae, schools, workplaces, communities and private clinics.

Finding a physiotherapist

You can talk to your doctor about being referred to a physio or visit a physio directly.

The Physiotherapy New Zealand website is a great place to find a qualified physio in your area.

Qualifications and training

Qualified physiotherapists have a degree in physiotherapy. Many continue to study to gain post-graduate qualifications in a specific area of physiotherapy.

Physiotherapists in New Zealand are registered with the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand, which is responsible for making sure physiotherapists are qualified, competent and update their skills frequently.

What physiotherapists do

Physiotherapy can help with many conditions, including:

  • muscle and joint sprains and strains
  • back injuries
  • neck pain
  • return to sports and work after an injury
  • breathing problems
  • heart and lung conditions
  • women's health issues
  • recovery and preparation for surgery
  • exercise to improve health and mobility
  • pain problems
  • headaches
  • recovery from strokes
  • living with a condition such as Parkinson disease or multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • relaxation and breathing to relieve stress.

Cost of seeing a physiotherapist

If ACC accepts your claim, ACC will cover most of the costs of your treatment. You'll only have to pay a co-payment.

If ACC doesn't cover your claim, you'll need to pay a fee, which varies from clinic to clinic. It's always best to contact the physio before visiting to talk about costs.

In some cases, your GP may be able to refer you to the hospital physiotherapy service.

You may be able to claim the cost of physiotherapy through your health insurance.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed March 2022.

Page reference: 619939

Review key: HIPHY-169329