Rotorua has it all if you are looking to entertain the whole family. We have visited on several occasions and still find new things we want to come back and do.
On our most recent visit we stayed at the All Seasons Holiday Park just out of Central Rotorua near the airport. It has an affordable two-bedroom wheelchair accessible family unit with a wet-floor shower. The Holiday Park is situated at the end of a road off Highway 30 which leads onto the lakefront of Lake Rotorua, the biggest of all the lakes in the area. This is a popular recreational place for both locals and tourists alike. The Lake boasts excellent trout fishing and recreation making the All Seasons Holiday Park a popular place to stay.
The first thing that greets you at this Holiday Park are dinosaurs. You will find them all over the place with many of the buildings and roads boasting their own dinosaur name. The Reception/Office or “Dinostore” is not accessible because of the steps leading up to the door, but the friendly, helpful staff on-hand are quick to accommodate. Inside they have an activity and information booking desk with a few essentials like butter, milk and bread in case you’ve forgotten something.
The terrain around the place has loose fine gravel in most parts. Right in front of the “Dinostore” is a food caravan with burgers, chips and toasties on offer. This seems to be a good congregating point with a picnic bench and bird aviary. We found it open throughout the day for breakfast, lunch and tea.
After our three hour trip down from Auckland we decided to try UberEats for some takeaway. This is when we realised we’d become a little too used to the convenience of city life. UberEats didn’t serve this area and takeaway deliveries were minimal. There are times after driving a long way you are not going to succeed in getting kids back into a car to source food. So we settled on burgers for tea from the onsite caravan instead.
Tip to self: “Have a ready made tea prepared for arrival”
One activity we planned to do whilst in Rotorua was to take out the new free-to-hire TrailRider All-Terrain Wheelchair. The Rotorua Lakes City Council were looking after it and had kindly dropped it at the Holiday Park for us prior to our arrival.
If you are interested in learning more about our adventures with the TrailRider and how to organise it you can read all about it here.
The All Seasons staff helped wheel the TrailRider to where we were booked into stay. We were able to park right beside the accessible family unit and take a ramp up to get onto the deck for access. The terrain is made up of loose gravel and the adventure playground is right next door. Our Unit was Number 7.
We unpacked all the equipment inside our van: a shower commode, a mobile hoist, our Finlay and his powerchair, a sleep system, the Hippocampe beach wheelchair, a suitcase and chilly bin. It is obvious to see why we love to have parking so close to our accommodation.
The family unit boasts a little sheltered deck giving the unit a covered entry and enjoys all-day sun with lip-free access through a glass sliding door.
Once inside I found manoeuvring around with the mobile hoist a bit of a push and tug negotiating carpet and awkward corners but it was manageable. An independent wheelchair user would find it a lot easier.
The equipped kitchen had basically all we needed but we felt that it was time to replace the plates, bowls, glasses and utensils with full matching sets. We also couldn’t locate the all important chopping board. The Management however were lovely and no doubt they would have taken feedback onboard.
The sofa bed pulls out to sleep an extra if needed and there is another TV up on the wall.
Finlay stayed in the room with the Queen bed as it provided the most room to circulate using the mobile hoist. We pushed the bed into the wall to create much needed space. We found ample space under the bed for the legs of the hoist. The bed was at a good height for an independent wheelchair user to do a self-transfer, 50 mm from top of mattress to floor. However, for assisting someone into the bed and seeing to personal cares we found the bed was quite low. This is always a hard compromise in an accessible room and to really cater for the wide variety of access needs, perfection would only be solved by a height-adjustable bed.
You will find when reviewing accessible accommodation the bed height will become more of an access feature for us to include. Another consideration is how hard the mattress is, we often bring along Finlay’s pressure mattress overlay just in case. Our Finlay was pretty comfortable in this bed however and really enjoyed watching TV whilst tucked up inside it. We propped him up with all the pillows and attached his sleep system to keep him straight.
The bunk bed in the second room needed a bit of tender loving care as it creaked when someone turned over above. Two of us ended up sleeping in the bottom bunk, leaving top bunk empty and utilising the pull out sofa bed in the lounge/living room instead.
Again, the bunk just probably needed a bit of tightening up which we fed back to Management.
Wet Floor Accessible Bathroom
The bathroom wasn’t too bad, it was a good size and functional. The sliding door to enter is a little over 800 mm in width and leads directly off the kitchen. The mirror is accessible for viewing but the hand basin has minimal clearance for a wheelchair user to get as close as they’d like. We noted there was nowhere to place your shampoo or soap when in the shower, but located on a shelf alongside the hand basin instead.
We brought along Finlay’s shower commode to use as he is unable to sit on anything without the right amount of support. This works well but it’s always a challenge when negotiating transfers from powerchair to shower commode with a mobile hoist. These transfers are always hard to do if the bathroom is tight for space. This is where dignity for the person being transferred and the endurance of the caregiver comes into play. For us we did all transfers in the bedroom using hoist, so the transfer process comprised of powerchair to bed, then from bed to shower commode to shower before transferring back to bed.
The holiday park has a spa pool and a good sized pool. There is no hoist available and the pool is in-ground with no ramp. It has a shallow end with a wide step down area for easy access. We didn’t try the pool as it was quite busy at the time and I lacked the strength to assist Finlay on my own. However, the ramp was pretty good with lip free access to get into the complex. I think if Finlay was younger and lighter I would have certainly taken him in as he loves water. These days I find I can assist him down into things but struggle to lift him back up even with a two-person lift.
We decided to take a little walk and wheel outside the holiday park on the day we arrived. Nothing like checking out where you are located and what’s on offer. To our pleasant surprise we found the Lake right on our doorstep and a recreational hub of activity with wharf jumpers, kayaking, paddle boarding, trout fishing, horse trekking and picnics.
The walkways were a breeze with Finlay’s powerchair and didn’t provide a barrier to us at all. There were small board walks along the way to negotiate streams filtering into the Lake. Some had a bit of rain washout in front that left small lips, but the powerchair powered over them with no problem. The trails were a mixture of flat dirt track, concrete and boardwalk with no gradients in sight.
Make sure you check out all the other walkways around Lake Rotorua, you can find more of these walkways, mostly wheelchair accessible by checking out Walkways – Rotorua Lakes Council.
We are certainly looking forward to returning and doing more.