New Zealand is often regarded as the capital of extreme sports and challenging hikes. But there is a lot more to this beautiful country than meets the eye. There are many fantastic tourist spots and local gems that you can access in a wheelchair or with other disabilities. Even attractions that you think may be out of reach are likely to cater to disabled visitors, especially if you let them know you’ll be coming. From iconic buildings to beautiful landscapes, let’s take a look at New Zealand’s most impressive accessible landmarks.
Auckland sky tower — Auckland
The Auckland sky tower stands at a majestic 328 metres tall. It towers above the rest of the city, providing breath-taking views of the surrounding landscape. The view from up there is second to none, and to make it even better, the dining options are exceptional. The sky tower features a dining precinct containing, among other things, 20 bars, a theatre, and world-class casino and many restaurants. There is even a rotating restaurant at the pinnacle of the tower.
Thankfully, no one has to miss out on the beautiful sites the tower has to offer. You can access the viewing deck (which is 220 metres above street level) via a wheelchair accessible elevator.
Opening hours: 9am–9:30pm
Auckland Harbour Cruise — Auckland
Another popular way of seeing the sites of Auckland is the Waitemata harbour cruise. The cruise takes you past many of the city’s famous landmarks including Rangitoto Island, Bean Rock, the Sky Tower, and the Harbour Bridge.
The impressive cruise is fully narrated, so you can sit back and enjoy the sights while learning a bit of local history. There is also a ramp to board the boat so this activity is wheelchair accessible. You may need a little assistance from the crew, but they will happily help you get onto the cruise. If you are a wheelchair user, you will have to stay on the lower floor of the boat. However, you can go outside at the rear and the views are just as good.
Te Papa Museum — Wellington
The Te Papa Museum in Wellington is New Zealand’s national museum. If you are looking for somewhere to soak up the local history, learn about the culture, and even see a colossal squid, then this is the place for you! This free museum opened as Te Papa in 1998, but its history stretches back much further. The building was originally designed as a tiny colonial museum in 1865. Millions of visitors have crossed the threshold since then, and the museum is internationally acclaimed.
The museum goes to every length to cater to its visitors. Wheelchairs and mobility scooters can both access the museum with ease and all of the exhibitions are accessible as well. The cafes, shops, and most of the toilets are also wheelchair friendly. In addition, there are seating areas placed throughout the exhibitions at regular intervals so that visitors can rest.
There is also the option of renting a mobility scooter, but you will need to let the museum know you want to rent it 24 hours in advance.
Opening hours: 10am–6pm
Wellington Botanic Gardens — Wellington
If you are looking to get away from it all and immerse yourself in nature, take a visit to Wellington Botanic Gardens. This 25 hectare stretch of natural wonder features areas of protected native forest, as well as rare fauna and flora. It would make a beautiful trip out on a sunny day.
The gardens feature paved walkways throughout, so wheelchair accessibility isn’t a problem. Furthermore, the gardens can be accessed by the wellington cable car. Each compartment of the cable car features wide doors suitable for wheelchair access. There are also mobility scooters which you can rent free of charge from Begonia House.
Open 24 hours
International Antarctic centre — Christchurch
A final attraction to add to your New Zealand bucket list is the International Antarctic Centre. Located in Christchurch, this unusual museum gives an insight into life in the Antarctic. You can make friends with the penguins and the huskies, as well as learning the history behind the very first Antarctic expeditions.
The museum is located near the Christchurch international airport and can be easily accessed by car (thanks to the accessible parking spaces). Or, there is a free penguin shuttle bus that departs from the centre of the city. The museum is also completely accessible by wheelchair, featuring disabled toilets and a lift up to the penguin viewing area.
Opening hours: 9am–5:30pm
There are so many incredible places to visit in New Zealand and it’s important to be aware of which landmarks are fully accessible. With the simple additions of ramps, mobility scooters or stairlifts, this country’s beauty can easily become available to so many more tourists and locals alike.