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As a fully inclusive and welcoming country, New Zealand recognises its commitment to persons of disability with its Human Rights Act 1993, and it is an original signatory of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2008. Businesses throughout the country have the necessary accessibility facilities to accommodate people with all kinds of disabilities. Above all this, the famous Kiwi friendliness and hospitality guarantees everyone is welcome in their country.

Things to do, places to see...

Bungee Jumping

The historic Kawarau Bridge twenty minutes outside Queenstown on the South Island is worth a visit on its own merit to enjoy the stunning setting, but it has perhaps achieved comparable fame as the host to the world’s first commerical bungee jump. Run by A. J. Hackett, the Aucklander who popularised the sport of bungee jumping, it features comprehensive facilities and wheelchair access to ensure disabled adverturers can enjoy the exhiliration of this extreme sport. When it comes to actually preparing for the jump itself, the personnel are experienced at helping disabled participants. And don’t be shy - naked wheelchair jumping is encouraged! 

https://www.bungy.co.nz/queenstown/kawarau-bungy-centre/ 

If you get the taste, be sure also to try the Sky Tower jump in Auckland. All of the upper levels in the tower are fully wheelchair accessible. You either enjoy New Zealand’s highest restaurant, or just enjoy the main observation deck. And if you’re feeling brave, strap in and try the Sky Jump. Not quite a full bungee experience – falling the full 1700 feet height of the tower would be quite something – but more a controlled rope jump, it is nevertheless terrifying within it urban setting. Also run by A. J. Hackett, the staff are experienced in assisting disabled guests. 

https://www.skycityauckland.co.nz/sky-tower/skyjump-skywalk/ 

 

Skydiving 

A one hour drive from Christchurch, Skydiving Kiwis offer tandem skydives for thrill-seekers of all disabilities. Approved with a gold seal by the Making Trax movement supporting inclusive tourism in New Zealand, Skydiving Kiwi instructors are experienced at accompanying disabled jumpers, using specialist equipment and harnesses to ensure complete comfort and safety. The dives feature spectacular views over the Canterbury region of the South Island, over to the Canterbury Bight coast to the east and the Aoraki National Park to the west. 

 

If you're after the highest skydive in the Southern hemishpere, then look no further than Skydive Franz. Located near to Franz Josef glacier, Skydive Franz offer an unrivalled 18,000ft jump over the iconic glacier region, with views over the Aoraki National Park and down to Fox Glacier. This stunning scenery combined with a full 75 second freefall makes it a photogapher's dream. Disabled jumpers are more than welcome, with instuctors experienced in doing tandem jumps with people of all types of disabilites. 

 

Kayaking

With its awesome coastline, surging rivers and crystal clear lakes, no trip to New Zealand would be complete without donning a wetsuit and going for a kayak. Try R&R Kayaks in Abel Tasman for a friendly, family owned sea-kayaking tour. They offer individual rental and guided tours around this splendid area of the South Island, with kayaks which can be adpated for disabled users, and customised tours to suit all abilities. Their facilities are also fully accessible, with hot showers and changing rooms.

 

Skiing

New Zealand takes its skiing very seriously, and this naturally extends to ensuring people with disabilities have every opportunity to participate and contribute to this sport. The Turoa ski fields in North Island have established their own facility, the Mt. Ruapehu Adaptive Programme, to promote, encourage and train skiers with disabilities to achieve their full potential. They have taken this expertise to invite skiers of all abilities to participate fully and safely, and to enjoy the unique perspective of New Zealand that can only be gained from high up on the slopes. 

 

A similar faciltiy can be found in the South Island with the Cardona Adaptive Snow Sports programme. Based in the Cardona snow fields, it offers the same opportunities to try out skiing using equipment adapted to your specific disability. In addition to the trained instructors, there is also an extensive network of volunteers who provide support on the slopes.

 

(See also our dedicated ski section, with details of more ski fields to try!)

 

Tracks and Trails

The good news first? The Department of Conservation (DOC) has recently completed a wheelchair access route to the Abel Tasman Coastal Track - one of the nine Great Walks of New Zealand - which provides a three day tour for disable travellers around the iconic region. The bad news? It unfortunately is the only one of the Great Walks which offers this special access. But the DOC are working on it! In the meantime, they have issued literature on the many other trails they maintain in the North and South islands, with guidance on disabled access. 

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