With Summer being around the corner in Aotearoa New Zealand we start to think about access to our beaches. Last Summer in our Accessible Travel Forum for New Zealand we discussed the challenges surrounding accessing our beaches when dependent on a wheelchair. We knew of certain locations that had beach wheelchairs for hire, but it was surprising how little we knew about trying to book them. Availability for beach wheelchairs and beach access mats varied too depending on what season it was. Some you would need to book through Council websites. Other’s belonged to disability organisations like Halberg Sports Foundation and CCS Disability Action. The administration for the beach wheelchairs seemed to fall upon many of the local surf life saving clubs.
When travelling with a wheelchair we often have to pack a whole heap of equipment just for personal cares. Finding the space and extra hands to travel with adapted ‘leisure’ equipment can be near on impossible. Beach wheelchairs can come in all shapes and sizes but generally they are too big to just fit into a back of a vehicle. That’s why hiring them at locations can be a cost effective and a practical way to travel. Let’s face it, general tourism allows the hiring of bikes, kayaks, paddle-boards, etc. It seems common sense to create more inclusion in the hire pool.
Recently, Accessible Beaches NZ partnered up with C1 South, a disability equipment provider down in the Waikato. C1 South is New Zealand’s distributor for the Mobi-Mat and Mobi-Chair. The partnership is campaigning to make our beaches and waterways more accessible for all. They provide an informative directory on their website that will eventually become a fabulous resource for finding accessible beaches.
Beachwheels NZ is New Zealand’s largest distributor of beach wheelchairs. They have a good range to choose from to suit a wide range of needs. They currently rent some of their stock through the Summer months at the popular Long Bay Regional Park.
Beaches rolling out Beach Mats in the Summer
Tauranga City Council is making good progress initiating their disability strategy for the City. They have beach mats out at Pilot Bay, The Cenotaph and Cutter’s Cove. They also have beach wheelchair rental operating out of the Hisbiscus Surf Club and Papamoa Surf Club.
Whakatane, like Tauranga is located in the Bay of Plenty. They have a beach mat available at the Whakatane Surf Life Saving Club on Ohope Beach during the Summer months.
Wellington has a beach mat at Days Beach, Lower Hutt along with beach wheelchairs. You can pick up a Hippocampe Beach Wheelchair with balloon tyres from Freyberg Pool, 139 Oriental Parade, contact details can be found on the Wellington City Council website. They also have a ‘free to hire’ service for other mobility devices.
Our other beach mat can be found at North Beach in Christchurch. New Brighton Surf Life Saving Club hire out the Sandy Melrose Beach Chairs that are locally made in Christchurch.
We know of a few more Council’s in the process of making their beaches more accessible. So, looking forward to sharing more locations listed very soon.
Below is a downloadable / printable map of all the present beach wheelchairs available for hire in New Zealand.
You can read more about our beach experiences in New Zealand by clicking on the following links: