New Zealand is one of the most accessible nations for the traveller with a disability. The Airports provide ground staff to assist with boarding and disembarking. Air bridges at the major terminals (both domestic and international) provide level access but at smaller airports fork lifts are used to assist wheelchair users. Aisle seats with lift up armrests on some flights and aisle transport chairs (Newton) are available on request. On domestic flights wheelchair users may stay in their own chair to the cabin entry before transferring to an aisle chair.
The law requires every new motel/hotel to provide a certain number of units that are fully accessible. Travellers with disabilities can book with confidence into any of the large hotels but some of the smaller facilities with an accessible unit may not have access to their restaurants and other amenities. Check before booking with proprietors for details of accessibility. All cities and most towns have a Total Mobility (wheelchair transporter) Taxi service operated by the main taxi companies.
If you want to use a car on your travels some car rental companies will attach a hand control if given three days notice. You can also obtain a temporary Operation mobility card for $30 used for car parking specially provided for people with disabilities throughout New Zealand. This is obtained from any New Zealand Disability Resource Centre branch.
Trains and buses may be difficult to access without assistance. Major train stations are generally accessible but some smaller ones have under or over pass approaches, which could be difficult for some disabilities. Toilets at stations are accessible but cubicles may be very small on trains and buses.
The accessibility of tourist attractions depends on the activity. Museums and theatres etc have good access but some of the Adventure Tourism activities eg jet boating, bungy jumping, May only be partially accessible. Operators are very helpful and willing to assist.
Independent travellers with restricted mobility are welcome in New Zealand and encouraged to join mainstream vacation packages. The only requirement is advance notice of disability.
There are a number of Disability Information Centres throughout the country who may be able to provide you with information on accessible tourist attractions and accommodation that are available locally. Enable Information (a national disability information and referral service) can provide the phone number for the local Disability Information Centres.
To contact Enable Information call 0800 17 1981.
For accomodation for disabled travellers, take a look at www.accomobility.co.nz, which is a website developed to provide specific, centralized information highlighting the accessible facilities provided at accommodation establishments throughout New Zealand.
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