Gain Physiotherapy and/or Occupational Therapy experience with physically disabled children at a special unit in Auckland. You'll assist in a unit that has a large number of children with physical disabilities such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and mobility problems.

As well as gaining valuable experience, you'll get a wonderful sense of achievement from assisting in helping these great kids!


Hi, I'm Katie, Project Coordinator for New Zealand, and I'll be working with you to arrange your ultimate experience here, so if you've any questions, please contact me:
+44 (0)1903 502595,
or email: info@travellers
Price: £1,595 (approx. US$2,035) for 4 weeks
£270 (approx. US$345) for each additional week.
Excludes flights. Please see Full Price List & prices in other currencies
Duration: From 4 weeks to 12 weeks or longer. Subject to visa requirements.
Start Dates: Projects start every Thursday, during school term times only (see “Work Content” tab) – you choose your start and finish dates.
Requirements: Minimum age 18. You should either be in your second year of study (or higher) or be qualified in, Physiotherapy or Occupational Therapy.
What's included: Arranging your Programme,
Full pre-departure support and assistance,
Payment Protection insurance,
Meeting you at the nearest airport,
Transfer to your accommodation
Local in-country team support and backup,
24-hr emergency support,
Certificate of Completion
What's not included: Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas, Food, Daily transport to and from your project, Return transfer to the airport.
Who can do this Programme? All projects are open to all nationalities and all ages over 18.
Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in gaining overseas work experience. Also suitable for anyone just wanting to study abroad and learn about Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Language Therapy practice overseas. Please see "Requirements" above.


  • An exciting opportunity to travel, see the world and experience a foreign culture first-hand.
  • New skills, more confidence and invaluable personal and professional development.
  • The enormous satisfaction of helping these disadvantaged children and knowing that you made a difference to them.
  • An opportunity to take a break from the traditional academic track or your current career path in order to gain life experience and global cultural awareness
  • An entry on your CV or Résumé that will enhance your career opportunities and make you stand out from the crowd.
  • Make friends, form relationships and build memories that will last a lifetime.
  • Opportunities to enjoy some exciting adventure and cultural activities while on your programme.
  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!


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I am gaining significant valuable experience. I have worked with children before but working with disabled children (both physically and mentally) poses a whole range of different challenges. From learning how to communicate with them so they understand, to how to motivate them to engage with the task in hand. I am also lucky enough to be working alongside other allied health professionals, being Occupational therapists and Speech and Language therapists so I am learning about their work here as well."Rebecca Acheson

You'll assist in a unit that has a large number of children with physical disabilities such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and mobility problems. You'll work alongside and under the guidance of the current therapist at the unit, helping the children with their disabilities.

This is a work experience placement rather than an internship, because Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists must be New Zealand registered to be able to carry out their professional role. This means that the Centre is unable to offer formal supervision and formal teaching; therefore they are not able to assign you to individual cases. (Previous volunteers have independently kept a log and completed self-generated assignments on their experience. The Centre also provides a reference and evidence of the hours worked at the end of your placement.)

The Inclusion Support Centres we work with are attached to the following schools: Primary (for children aged 5-10 approx.), Intermediate (for children aged 10-12 approx.), and Secondary (for children aged 12-18 approx.). Here students with disabilities can grow emotionally, socially and cognitively in a challenging and supportive environment with maximum contact with their age peers. Many of the children at the unit are wheelchair bound and require constant attention.

The Centres have a number of staff who work with the children, such as:

  • Physiotherapist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Speech Therapists
  • Teachers

The staff and the parents work together to establish what the aims are for their children and how the therapists can achieve them with the outcome of an individual programme for each child. Where possible, the children will be integrated into the mainstream schools to give them the opportunity to interact with their peers throughout the school day while supported by special educated teachers, teacher aids and therapists (Occupational, Physio and Speech Language Therapists).

The centres also boast a number of facilities, such as a gym which includes balancing bars, treadmills, weights, stepper, Swiss balls, stationary cycles for the therapist to work with.

The staff at the centre are incredibly friendly and welcoming people, true Kiwis! You will be learning from qualified professionals who have a real passion and love for what they do and they are very enthusiastic to share their knowledge and time with those who truly want to learn. They are also very keen to demonstrate some kiwi style hospitality so some post-work socialising will really make you feel like one of the team!

You'll work as a teacher aid to the children and have the opportunity to shadow the existing therapists who treat the children. You'll work under supervision alongside other teacher aids and staff in groups or one-on-one with the students. You will also get the chance to work with the children in a classroom environment and this will give you additional experience in how to work with their disabilities and to overcome these obstacles within education.

The units generally have around 30 children with a range of disabilities. Many of the children at the units are wheelchair bound and require constant attention. The children are split into 3 classes according to the severity of their disability. This means that you can specialise in an area you are more interested in within these classes.

Each child will have different problems that the therapists will be looking at, therefore they will be creating individual programmes for each child, which could include any or all of the following:

  • Stretching,
  • Positioning,
  • Swiss ball work,
  • Compression through the spine,
  • Using standing frames,
  • Looking at tone and posture,
  • Massaging and maintaining good joints.

As a teacher aid, your main objectives are to enable special needs students to participate as fully as possible in the education and daily living process.

Assisting children on the journey to independence: This includes supporting pupils in academic and therapy programmes, in Eating, in Toileting, in ensuring children are working in a safe, tidy and clean environment. You'll also assist with supervising children in the playground.

Fulfilment of the primary objective involves accepting responsibility for completing the following tasks:

  1. Following the individual timetable given.
  2. Supporting children in their activities as directed by the Centre Manager / Therapists / Class Teachers.
  3. Preparing, sorting, tidying and maintaining therapy / classroom / Centre resources as directed by the Centre Manager / therapists.
  4. Attending meetings as directed and keeping records as directed by the Centre Manager / Therapists.
  5. Attending professional development sessions or courses as appropriate.
  6. Accompanying students on class outings as appropriate.

Previous graduates have found it to be an excellent experience which has enhanced their learning and also made a great contribution to the centre. Volunteers work in a class and with the teacher, specialists and other Teacher Aides in their collaborative setting. Volunteers are expected to fulfil the same duties as other Teacher Aides as directed by the teacher. Orientation and guidance is provided.

Please note this project is a teacher-aid rather than an internship - this is because Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists must be New Zealand registered to be able to carry out their professional role. This means that the Centre is unable to offer formal supervision and formal teaching; therefore they are not able to assign you to individual cases.

Previous volunteers have independently kept a log and completed self generated assignment on their experience. The Centre also provides a reference and evidence of the hours worked at the end of your placement.

PLEASE NOTE: We can only take one volunteer at a time on this project so we strongly advise booking early.

You are likely to work between 8:30 a.m. - 3.00 p.m., Monday - Friday. The programme is only available during the school times.

The school dates for 2018 are

  • Term 4: 10th Oct – 15th Dec

The school dates for 2019 are

  • Term 1: 7th February - 12th April
  • Term 2: 29th April - 5th July
  • Term 3: 22nd July - 27th September
  • Term 4: 14th October - 13th December

REQUIREMENTS: Anyone working with children and/or vulnerable adults is required to complete a Criminal Records Check (CRC) as part of their application process. We'll provide you with the necessary papers and take you through the process.


You'll live in a centrally located hostel that is friendly and relaxing, making it ideal for long-term stays. You will be sharing a room with other volunteers. There is a communal kitchen and storage area for cooking meals and plenty of space to relax.

Wi-Fi / Internet: There is Wi-Fi / Internet access in the accommodation, with a small charge.

Entertainment at your accommodation includes cheap internet access, TV and free pool table. You are literally a stroll from the Sky Tower, harbor and waterfront. Accommodation is very central and close to the main train station and shopping district. Buses are also only a few minutes away to take you to parts of Auckland and New Zealand or to the many other ‘things to do’!

Food is not provided on this project, but Auckland has restaurants to suit all tastes - the most popular cuisine is New Zealand lamb which can be ordered at many restaurants around the city and is well worth it. For meals in local restaurants, a trip to Auckland's inner city centre is well worth the effort - it bustles with activity and offers a range of choices of restaurants.


Read important information about the Support & Backup you receive before you leave and during your programme.

Read about the Safety and Security measures we take to ensure your safety and wellbeing while on our programme.

Thanks from a School Principal to Travellers' NZ Organiser:
>Hi Annette, Just a quick note so say how much the staff enjoyed having Jennie and Delyth and are still enjoying having Adria. They all fitted in really quickly and have been a tremendous help to us. As well as helping children read, assist in class and so on, we had a new child arrive who was very needy and Jennie and Delyth were able to work with him separately at different times while we were trying to organize support. This meant the teacher was assisted greatly and could concentrate more on the rest of the children. Just wanting to pass on all the school's thanks for the volunteers and hope there are many more to come. Diana Tregoweth"

Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular programme (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

On Arrival, your Introduction to the Country:
When you arrive you will be welcomed by a member of our team who will take you to your accommodation and introduce you to everyone. During your first few days you'll be given an induction so that you can learn about the country and its culture, as well as other useful information, like how to use the transport system, banks, safety issues, tipping, and lots more.

As well as protecting all our volunteers, Travellers Worldwide is committed to all our projects and dedicated to practices which protect children and vulnerable adults from harm. Read Travellers' Child Care and Vulnerable Adults Policy.

Veronica van der Straaten, Deputy Principal, talks about the huge difference Travellers Worldwide Volunteers are making to the Children and the School.:
As the day begins there are screams and laughter coming from the school pool as children at 9.15 a.m. plunge into the cold depths and race around trying to get warm. Meantime in the music room nearby the music teacher is setting up instruments in front of each eager face as the music lesson for a junior class is about to commence. As you walk around the school you notice one or two groups of children reading to an adult while busily in class children are learning, with the help of the adults in the room. In the office area children who are running late are having their names recorded in the absence register, while the telephone rings and a parent with a new five year old waits patiently to have his/her child enrolled. In the resource room volunteers, teacher aides and a parent stamp and bind new books ready to be categorised and to be put onto the shelves ready for teachers to use. In classrooms children are reading, writing, and/or working on their maths.

This is the start of a typical day at Owairaka Primary School situated in the central city district of Mount Albert, Auckland, New Zealand. A busy multicultural school with 320 children, some of whom were born in New Zealand, many of whom have English as a second language or have parents from non- English speaking backgrounds, some are refugees. As you look around the classes and playgrounds there is a vision of the United Nations with Ethiopian, Somalian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Samoan, Tongan, Cook Island, English, Maori, European children, and many more cultures, intermingling, playing and learning together.

At the swimming pool, while the class teacher is instructing a group on how to use arm strokes to swim, a volunteer is working with a group of children teaching them how to float. In the music room another volunteer assists the music teacher with her programme, encouraging and assisting the youngest children. The adult listening to the small group of children read is a volunteer from England. He realises the importance of his role because for some of these children reading to a parent to whom English is a second language is difficult. In the office another volunteer is typing up a policy document that is needed for the next Board of Trustees meeting while her friend is working in the resource room, stamping and taping new readers for classes to use. In a year 3 and 4 class, the last volunteer is working alongside a child who needs help to write his news for the day while the class teacher helps the other children.

We are very fortunate at our school. This term we have had the benefit of having six extra adults in our school. They are making a difference! Two of the volunteers from Travellers Worldwide are assisting our music specialist; all of the volunteers are involved with classes so there are at least two adults at the pool at any one time teaching the children to swim. All of our volunteers have children who read to them daily and from last year’s testing we know this has and does make a difference to their learning progress. At lunchtime we have volunteers supervising the free swim time as well as taking the school cricket and softball teams. One of our volunteers works in the library for part of the day binding books and assisting children in the selection of books. All of our volunteers work alongside children in classes at some time during the day. There is variety in their programme and their strengths and interests are utilized.

2007 saw the start of our association with Travellers Worldwide ... [the volunteers] have been welcomed with open arms. I cannot speak more highly of their commitment and dedication to our school and the children. They are making such a difference.



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Make the most of your time there! To help you do that, we've put together some exciting activities, courses and tours that you can add to your itinerary. These are designed to be fun, but also to enable you to learn, and expand your personal and professional development enjoyment ... but mostly for your enjoyment! :-)

Coming Soon!

Message from Annette Orchard Travellers Organiser in Auckland, New Zealand:

If you're reading this then you are probably a lot like NZ- we are innovative and creative, not set in our ways yet, and still developing our identity. We have a great "can-do" attitude to life.

We are the ultimate outdoor playground and, if it hasn't been done, we invent it- Jet boating, Black-water Rafting and Bungee Jumping to name a few. Within easy reach you can also go Whale-watching, Sky-Diving, White-water Rafting, Abseiling and numerous other activities. The locals are invariably friendly and helpful and will make you welcome.

Auckland "City of Sails" is a modern vibrant multi-cultural city of one million with a beautiful harbour, numerous islands, beaches, parks and volcanoes for you to explore. You will always see people out jogging, walking and cycling. There are numerous multi-ethnic restaurants, great shops and a busy night-life scene. New Zealand has a temperate climate and although winter can be frustratingly wet, it is reasonably short.

We are proud of our country and happy to share it with you!

Terms and Conditions apply for Add-Ons, please see here.




The country can be divided into the North Island, the South Island and Stewart Island, as well as many tiny surrounding islands. The North Island is typically famous for beaches, springs and bush, whilst the South Island boasts mountains, glaciers, alpine forests and farmlands.

The city centre boasts great shopping, restaurants and pubs or head over to the viaduct for more pubs, nightclubs and multicultural cuisine. You'll get to work via bus, which is close to your accommodation.

Maori settlement in Auckland was at least 800 years ago where by different tribes built theIr fortifications on the various volcanoes in Auckland. When the British arrived in 1840 they claimed Auckland as the capital city of New Zealand until Wellington became the capital 25 years later. The city is modern and vibrant - a fun and friendly with beautiful surrounding islands and harbour.

Some of its more famous attractions include the Sky Tower, Rangitoto island, the Harbour, the Hauraki Gulf Islands and the many extinct volcanoes that are in Auckland which provide great views of the city.

Climate: New Zealand has a largely temperate climate. While the far north has a subtropical summer, the inland alpine areas can get as cold as -10°C in winter. Most of the country, however, lies close to the coast, which means mild temperatures, moderate rainfall and abundant sunshine.


Read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country.


Occupational Therapy Work Experience in Auckland

What was your most memorable moment on the Program? I don't think I had a singular most memorable moment. Everyday was a new day, everyday provided different memorable memories, ranging from see a child create a story, to playing with the children in the playground. The children I encountered were the most memorable things about my program because each child I spent time with had an impact on my life.

What do you think your bieggest achievement was? I got to learn different roles that therapists can provide, it allowed me to view Occupational therapy in a different light.

And what positive impact do you think you had on the Project? I was helpful by providing an extra set of hands and eyes to help aid the children through their daily school tasks. I provided input to the therapists about the children they were monitoring, since I was able to interact with the children on a different level than the therapists.

I can't think of any improvements that could be made to this Project. I am grateful for the opportunity.

Occupational Therapy Work Experience in Auckland

The day starts with a rather early and long bus ride from the hostel into college, which is a good opportunity for a catch up on sleep. Walking into the centre involves a lot of hellos with the students and staff. At 8.30am its time for stretches with the students for 15 minutes before school starts, they might need a lot of encouragement but they have a laugh as well.

Then the school day starts and each day is different. You might have to work one to one with students to help them achieve their goals, such as scissor control, pencil skills and sequencing events; teach life skills such as road crossing, cleaning, self care (such as nail painting!!) and cooking; help students with school work and act as a teacher aide in main stream classes; help run brunch group with the students so planning what to buy, going shopping and finally making toasted sandwiches (those are good days!).

You also go out to visits to the library and work experience placements; take children to appointments such as orthotic clinics and to try new mobility solutions; go out on visits to primary schools to help certain children with problems such as fine motor control and you may get the chance to be involved in physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, speech and language therapy and music therapy sessions.

It helps to be flexible and willing to help whenever and wherever, each day and each week is different, and sometimes the students you are meant to work with are unavailable or are poorly or have appointments. There is lots to do but be willing to offer and suggest things, don’t always wait to be told what to do. The school day finishes at 3.05pm and then there is another bus ride home.

In the evenings there are opportunities so go to the cinema, go out to dinner (Mt Fuji on Queen Street is very nice!), go for a wander around the harbour or up to the sky tower (very impressive at sunset!) or just hang around at the hostel catching up with friends and watching TV or films.

There is plenty to do at the weekends too so expect to be busy then as well! There always seems to be lots of events going on in Auckland during the week and at the weekends so you shouldn't be short of things to do!!

Physiotherapy Work Experience in Auckland

I attend a Swimming Club, Monday to Friday, as part of my voluntary work as a physiotherapist. A typical day at the swimming club starts at 4 pm. As the swimmers start to arrive, I single out those I have treated previously to see how they are feeling and whether they have done any exercises I may have set them and I then decide if they need further treatment. I then talk to the other swimmers to see if any new injuries or problems have occurred.

The main injuries I have treated so far have been shoulder pain, postural and muscular imbalances, general back pain, hip and groin pain, and quadriceps and hamstrings muscle aches. My treatments have consisted of massage, muscle strengthening and stretching programmes, postural re-education and general advice for day-to-day living.

Many of the swimmers already see other physiotherapists for longer-term injuries so I have also worked through their programmes to ensure they are doing them correctly. I also assist the gym's fitness instructor in delivering flexibility and core and dynamic stability programmes to the swimmers.

I also work with the coaches to identify technical errors in swimming strokes, which may lead to, or have already led to injury.

The working ethos of the club is friendly and professional, and I encourage those interested in sports injury prevention and rehabilitation to complete this project.

Physiotherapy Work Experience in Auckland

I am gaining significant valuable experience. I have worked with children before but working with disabled children (both physically and mentally) poses a whole range of different challenges. From learning how to communicate with them so they understand, to how to motivate them to engage with the task in hand.

I am also lucky enough to be working alongside other allied health professionals, being Occupational therapists and Speech and Language therapists so I am learning about their work here as well.

Physiotherapy Work Experience in Auckland

: I am in a transition point in my life where I am applying for graduate school and confirming that physical (physio) therapy is what I want to do. I have never traveled out of the country, and this was a wonderful way to do it for the first time.

I am thankful for the great experience and for all of the people I met- other volunteers, locals, and employees and children at the school I was placed at. I made friends right away from living in the same hostel as the other volunteers, and every weekend we explored a new area of Auckland together. It is easy to get on a ferry or bus and see something new each day. It was nice to get up early and go to the school and still have some time in the afternoon/evening.

At the school, I would usually start in a classroom until I met the PT for scheduled sessions with different children. I had morning tea and lunch breaks and then I would be assigned to be with a child during playtime. I loved getting to know the sweet kids, and was sad to leave.

I'll always remember all of the people in New Zealand and the great experience.

PHOTO GALLERY: Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy Internship