In November 2024, the Otago Therapeutic Pool Trust surveyed the public as part of a feasibility study about future options for the Physio Pool. The feasibility study is supported by Health New Zealand |Te Whatu Ora and the Dunedin City Council. Most respondents to the survey Pool said they preferred a new hydrotherapy centre over redeveloping the existing Physio Pool.

People were asked whether they supported the provision of a hydrotherapy pool in Dunedin and, if so, which of three options they preferred – upgrading the current Physio Pool, building a new like-for-like replacement pool on a different site, or building a new pool on a different site with additional features.

Trust Secretary-Treasurer Neville Martin said about 1,900 people responded to the survey. Over half of respondents were former users of the Physio Pool. One fifth of respondents identified as disabled.

Respondents said they wanted a new pool on a different site with additional features such as a gym, physiotherapy services, steam room, spa pool and café. They preferred a centre with additional features as well as a pool, over a like for like replacement pool on a different site.

Most respondents identified carparking as a key issue.  Car parking options will be considered as part of the feasibility study

Mr Martin said the feasibility study was nearly completed, after which the Trust would consider its recommendations and decide on the next steps.


The Physio Pool closed in 2021 due to the breakdown of the heating system. It requires a large investment to reopen. It is owned by Health NZ and had been operated by the Trust for the last 40 years as a public swimming pool. The Physio Pool provided rehabilitation and recreational services for about 40,000 people a year. Currently, Dunedin Hospital physiotherapy patients follow a hydrotherapy programme, which they can use at the pool of their choice.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Physio Pool or a hydrotherapy pool?

The use of warm water to treat medical conditions. The water temperature is usually 33 – 36 degrees Celsius, which is warmer than normal swimming pools. Hydrotherapy is a recognised physical and mental health treatment. The water pressure and movement act as a form of physiotherapy for body and joint pain.

It can help alleviate the symptoms of a wide range of conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, cerebral palsy, and recovery from accidents and sporting injuries. They have accessibility features such as wheelchair access, hoists and a slowly increasing depth. Changing rooms are also accessible.

What are the benefits of hydrotherapy compared with land-based physiotherapy?

What are the benefits of hydrotherapy compared with land-based physiotherapy?

Patients with weak and painful joints and muscles tend to find exercise and movement in the warm water much easier and less painful than land-based exercise. This is because water supports the body and the force of gravity is reduced. The warm water has a relaxing effect.

Who can use the Physio Pool?

Everyone is welcome to use the pool – all ages and abilities, locals, visitors and tourists. However, hydrotherapy can be particularly beneficial for anyone with a disability, a long-term health condition or anyone who is rehabilitating from an operation or injury. It is used for swimming, aqua jogging, aqua fitness, rehab exercises and swimming lessons.

What is this survey about?

Asking for your views on options for either upgrading the existing Physio Pool or building a new facility. This is part of a feasibility study by the Trust.

What happens to public feedback?

Feedback will help the Trust decide on the next steps. It will go back to the community with the results.

What does the feasibility study involve and why is this being done?

It will look at options to either redevelop the existing pool or build a new pool and consider operating models. The study is funded by Lotteries.

What work has been carried on so far for the feasibility study?

Condition assessments of the existing pool, discussions with Te Whatu Ora on their long-term requirements for the site, and early engagement.

Why are we doing this project?

The Physio Pool has provided an essential community service for about 40,000 visitors a year, particularly older people and those with disabilities and long-term health and mobility difficulties. It was a very effective form of treatment, especially for people recovering from surgery.

Exactly how much will this project cost and who pays for it?

We don’t have a cost at this stage. Costs will be available once detailed design plans have been finalised.

How long will this project take?

Several years – it’s too early to provide a concise timeframe.

Why did the existing Physio Pool close?

It closed because the heating system stopped working and the cost to repair was prohibitive.

Who pays for this project? Where are the funds coming from?

From community fundraising and grants.

Who makes the final decision on the project?

The Otago Therapeutic Trust.

What are the next steps?

The project group will consider feedback from the survey and engagement and identify the preferred option.

I am for a hydrotherapy pool – how can I help?

Fill in the online survey. You can also fill in a hard copy survey at all DCC libraries, swimming pools and service centres, and at Age Concern.

Who do people talk to if they have questions and how can they reach them?

You can email us at or visit the Facebook page

Feasibility Study of the Physio Pool

A feasibility study of the Physio Pool is in progress to determine options for the future of public access to hydrotherapy in Dunedin. The Otago Therapeutic Pool Trust has engaged Dunedin project management firm, Feldspar Associates, to carry out the feasibility study.

Feldspar Associates has assembled a team of consultants with expertise in swimming pool design and development to examine the state of the Physio Pool infrastructure, scope the cost of redevelopment, consider alternative sites for a new pool, prepare modelling to assess long term financial viability and supply recommendations to the trust. Both Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand, which owns the Physio Pool, and Dunedin City Council are assisting with the study by supplying information to Feldspar Associates. A consultation group has been formed to supply feedback as the consultant team works through the stages of the study.

It is anticipated that the study will be completed by the end of this year. Depending on the recommendations from the study and the decisions of the trust the next steps would be securing long term site tenure, then fundraising and then detailed design and construction.

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