We drove our big mobility van along the 22-kilometre gravel road between the towns of Coromandel and Whitianga. This picturesque road is simply called The 309 Road. And located at Number 471, The 309 Road is the quirky theme park The Waterworks, with its water-powered inventions, playground, natural swimming hole and wholesome organic cafe.
“It is well sign-posted so you really can’t miss it”
We were in convoy with our Nana and Pop who had no idea what we meant when we told them we were on our way to visit The Waterworks. They thought they would be visiting a water park so came prepared with their swimming togs!
Parking and Entry
A marked mobility park is located to the left of the entrance on flat loose gravel terrain. The ramp up to enter the reception has an easy gradient with a row of toilet flower pots on one side which entertained our Finlay. Our wee man is forever grabbing anything that comes into his reach.
On entering the first thing you see to the left is a courtesy selection of wheels available for use. This is always a welcoming sight as you head into pay for your entry.
Before heading around the park we enjoyed a lovely light lunch in their delightful organic cafe. It is full of interesting bits and pieces to look at and discuss as you eat. The cafe has a spacious covered indoor/outdoor seating area with good circulation for wheelchairs. It’s a great place to relax in and rewind after your trip over the pass. The food inside is locally sourced and includes fresh vegetables sourced from their own small market garden on site.
There are two standard accessible toilets located in both male and female designated bathrooms for those who can self-transfer.
There is so much to take in and it’s the little surprises you find that add to the fun. Our Finlay managed to access just about everything and enjoyed being part of the pranks we all encountered along the way.
We were in hysterics most of the time and thoroughly enjoyed the good old Kiwi humour as we walked and wheeled around. ‘Betty’s Dunny’ gave our wee 8-year-old a hilarious shock when he ‘took a peak inside.’
We loved the display called ‘Mr Bones’ with its couple on a bike theme. It consisted of two old Raleigh bicycles, the riders made up of old bits of pipe hooked up to a garden hose. These days it’s all the rage for retirees to ride around on their electric bikes. So we naturally joked around seeing the likeness to our own Nana and Pop who were enjoying the day with us.
Our Finlay was constantly wanting to get in on all the action.
As we moved from one area to another we were followed by Laurel and Hardy the playful resident dogs. All dogs are welcome here which we found a real novelty after finding so many ‘no go’ areas for our Barley.
Another favourite display was the 10m high ‘Water Clock’. An incredible bit of engineering made up of a redundant power pole, 3 rocks and an old diving air tank. We checked the time and it was spot on!
Following the trail around we came across lots of things to read and share with one another. Light tales and poems, many unique to the Coromandel Peninsula. If you really want to embrace the real New Zealand life-style this place is a definite must-do.
Along the way the pranks kept coming. Finlay and I would often hold up the rear making us the ideal victims for getting wet by the numerous water cannons.
TIP – watch out for the wet patches on the ground!
Playgrounds & Picnic Area
What fun we had as a family in the playgrounds here. Located alongside the banks of the Waiau River. We found rope swings, big swings for delicate bums, a giant mouse run, flying bikes, flying foxes, climbing frames, a natural swimming hole and so much more. The Coromandel native bush offering plenty of shaded areas with picnic benches to bring in your own picnic to. We could have spent the entire day here!
The majority of the playground is wheelchair accessible with even a few playground equipment accessible if you can manage a standing transfer on and off them. Our Nana and Pop even took to the swings to the delight of their grandchildren.
The terrain is very natural, mostly lightly gravelled and flat with the occasional hard-packed ground and wooden boardwalks. We got around with the power chair without a problem.
We left this place with big grins and happy memories. This is a definite ‘must-do’ from our Grab Your Wheels family.
To finish off a really wonderful time, we had only driven down the road for less than one kilometre towards the Coromandel Township, when we had to stop for pigs … they were EVERYWHERE! Make sure you bring something to feed them as they love visitors. You will find plenty of parking to pull into.
“Definitely the Wackiest, Quirkiest and Funest eco friendly theme park in New Zealand!”
You can find out more by visiting their website.
More on What’s Wheelchair Accessible in the Coromandel
Things to Do
- Driving Creek Railway, Coromandel Town – blog coming soon!
- Hot Water Beach
- Access to Coromandel Beaches, blog coming soon!
Places to Stay
We will be adding more to this list on our next visit!