Sunday, March 16, 2008

New Zealand with Limited Mobility(Part2)

Maui Rental Van
When visiting New Zealand, getting around means more than renting a car or RV and picking up a guide book and a good map if you have mobility problems. You need wheelchair accessible transportation and accommodations. With a little advanced planning, wheelchair users can drive themselves or travel with a tour guide companion.

I hope you're thinking of trying Lake Waikaremoana. If so, you need to start planning now for next season. Accommodations are limited in the summer season. If you're planning to stay at the Lake Whakamarino Lodge, Accessible New Zealand has rental cars with hand controls. Galaxy Motors specializes in rental vehicles for people with disabilities. They also offer tour guide/companions and specialized tours to fit your travel plans.

If you want to rent a motorcaravan and try RVing, check out Mobility Motorhomes. Designed for wheelchair users, their units are fitted with hand controls and detachable steering wheel knobs. They're also fitted with a self-operating electric wheelchair lift which folds under the entrance door. Bathrooms have double doors for easy access.

If you're not interested in driving a car or RVing, the Intercity Bus runs through the park from Wairoa to Rotarua and return three days per week. Buses have fold down ramps for wheelchairs. A shuttle service can also be arranged from Wairoa.

Lake Waikaremoana in English means more or less-- Old man who fell asleep by the fire and roasted his private parts. I think I like the Maori version better. If you're visiting the "Land of the Mist," expect to get wet. Fog hangs around in the morning and settles in late evening-- and that's in the summer. Bring enough clothes to stay warm and dry. You don't want to get cold and fall asleep by a fire and get roasted.

Since you're planning for next season, you have time to contact Kiwis about their travels. If you're planning to spend time in Auckland, Red Nicholson, a Kiwi, can offer some advice. He's not a travel agent, just another Kiwi traveler. According to Red, "Most hotels/motels, and even backpackers have wheelchair access. It is a very common feature here." Check out Red's site Walking is Overrated.

New Zealand on Wheels is a wheelchair travel guide with reviews by Kiwis who have been there and done that. A recent review on the Wellington Botanic Gardens offers suggestions for getting around-- the gardens are not flat. Check the tourist sites they've reviewed and if you can't find what you're looking for-- ask. The Kiwi people are kind and generous. The tourism industry always promotes the scenery, but seldom mentions their greatest asset-- their friendly people.

Lyn Harris

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Anonymous said...

Are you in New Zealand? If so, where?

Lyn said...

No. I'm in Tucson, Arizona. I've been talking to RV and other organizations about New Zealand travel since November.