New Zealand is an incredible country: friendly people, great weather, mystical mountains, stunning lanscapes, active volcanos, incredible wildlife, some of the best spots for diving, beautiful beaches, a cave lit by glow-worms, whale-watching… these are just some of the things you should have on your bucket list for your trip. Or you could have the adventure of a lifetime and spend two weeks with the crew of Making Trax, New Zealand’s adaptive outdoor adventure team.
Making Trax is the creation of Jeremy – Jezza – Williams, expert outdoor guide who has been using a wheelchair since a canyoning accident in 2010. After rehabilitation, in 2012, he created his own outdoor adventure agency and all the activities are perfectly adapted to the needs of travellers with a disability: paragliding, rafting, horse trekking, bungee jumping (and there is more).
Jezza and his team will take you to the best places, you’ll be camping out in the wild, discovering the country by helicopter, exploring glaciers, horse-trekking, sleeping in the middle of nowhere under the Southern lights, cruising through spectacular fjords. You won’t miss out on any one of the 4 elements: air, water, earth and fire (don’t forget the volcanos!).
Sounds impossible? This is Jezza’s mission: to demonstrate that nothing is impossible and that a disability does not stop you from doing crazy and wonderful things. You just need the right equipment and an expert and fun guide.
As they say it: “the words: ‘not possible’ are not in our vocabulary”.
You can check out their pre-packaged tours or you can tailor your own adventure according to your preferences: the guarantee is that you will always be with experts, who know how to accompany you throughout the whole adventure and in each and every activity.
The only question now is… are you ready?
Exploring New Zealand is rather smooth for the wheelchair user, and incredibly pleasant. Most viewing spots and promenades are adapted: perfect for wheeling about and with stunning views. Access to natural attractions is also very good, as are the waterfronts, often set up with good walkways that will allow to get you near the water.
Public toilets are accessible by law, but better pre-plan the itinerary as in restaurants and bars there isn’t always an accessible one.
Changing places are starting to be introduced in NZ: so far there is only one (inaugurated in March 2018) that has been set up next to a children’s playground in Hamilton, but check the Changing Places NZ website for updates, as they are very active and will hopefully introduce new ones very soon!
A map of public toilets in NZ is available at http://www.camping.co.nz/. All you have to do is select the Public toilets layer and they will appear on the map. The website also has an app, which is rather practical – but in both website and app there is no specific accessibility description.
The same website has some general indications regarding accessible accommodation and tourist offices, so it is a resource to keep in mind.
If you are in Wellington, this map will help you locate accessible public toilets
Wellington toilets map
If you want to plan your trip using train and ferries, we recommend Be.Accessible’s guide with a lot of useful links (link below).
In their website you will also find information on public transport and taxis. Read it carefully as not all means of public transport are adapted for wheelchairs, so you’ll need to do some planning ahead.
There are many airports in New Zealand, both local and international. The main long distance ones are Auckland Airport (AKL), Christchurch (CHC) and Wellington (WLG). They are equipped for travellers with special needs, with sliding doors, accessible toilets and ATMs with Braille keys.
At the Auckland Airport there is also a wheelchair ready shuttle service to get to and from the airport, called Dial A Ride Transport (DART), which you can reach by phone at the number +64 9 625 5599 (or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org). Booking 48 hours in advance is advised, they have 17 hoist vehicles.