Our goal was to find wheelchair accessible accommodation to accommodate myself, a carer, my son in a wheelchair and my other two children. We were planning to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set during the school hols.Tweet
The Matamata Central Motel is only a 15-minute drive to the Hobbiton Movie Set. We decided on staying here overnight to make the trip a relaxing one. Travelling by car for more than 3-hours a day can become a strain on our Finlay, who needs to take regular breaks from his wheelchair. Matamata is an easy 2hr 30min drive from Auckland and a 50-minute drive from Hamilton.
Matamata itself is a flat farming township with a railway track that cuts right through it. On booking our Motel we considered it to be an excellent central accommodation. It looked to be a quick walking/wheeling distance to the New World Supermarket and the heart of the town centre. What we hadn’t taken into consideration was the busy round-about that filtered the main trunk line for Highways 24 & 27 in and out of the town and the railway line.
Although it’s true the accommodation is centrally located it was on the wrong side of the railway line. This meant the New World supermarket, although opposite couldn’t be further away for a wheelchair user. Most locals make the mad dash across the lines, but we had to head down the road and cross at the busy roundabout junction. The other challenge we found was no pedestrian crossings, so you literally had to wait for pot luck that someone would stop and let you cross.
We saw a local lady on a mobility scooter trying to cross the road at one of the few kerb cuts. She was waiting a while and actually got half-way across the road before traffic sent her back to wait again. I felt the urge to go out onto the road and flag the traffic down to allow her to cross, which incidentally I ended up doing. Shortly after she’d finally made it across, a long double-trailered truck pulled over off the road and completely blocked the kerb cut.
We decided crossing here ourselves was far too dangerous and carried onto the round-about to access the only walkway across the railway lines. Close to the railway crossing you will find the fabulous Hobbiton themed i-SITE Information Centre. Seeing this put us right back in the mood for our Hobbiton Movie Set visit booked for tomorrow.
The reason why we’d walked/wheeled into town was to find something to eat which we did at the very popular Redoubt Bar & Eatery. Tip for sitting inside try and book the window seats as it is easier to get in and out with a wheelchair. Plus, you get to enjoy the live music right in front of you. We sat outside which had a nice heater and plenty of space.
The Motel Accommodation
The motel has two well equipped studio access units. We were booked into their Studio Access Unit 10 which was next door to a two-bedroom family unit. We booked both rooms as the configuration worked for our family. We needed space for myself, three kids, a caregiver and a powerchair. Finlay’s caregiver Melissa stayed in the Access Studio Unit so Finlay could have access to a wheel-in shower for his shower commode on wheels. The rest of us, including Finlay, stayed in the family unit next door. It worked well except for a few access challenges we encountered on arrival.
The Reception was undercover with an accessible bell you could ring to get attention. Terrain flat, concrete and easy to circulate. We were greeted immediately and shown to our rooms.
Mobility parking is directly in front of the studio access and family unit. The parks are nice and wide, but lengthwise our big mobility van jutted out enough to block the entrance when we set the hoist down. Once we had Finlay in and out and his equipment unpacked we just moved it back to free up motel entrance.
Studio Access Unit 10
The studio access unit on the left is bright and spacious. Access is lip-free with under a covered entry.
Unfortunately, with the Family Unit next door we had some difficulty getting Finlay inside with his powerchair. A temporary ramp was put in by the management for our arrival. The ramp constantly fell down and eventually cracked under the weight of the powerchair. I was wishing I’d remembered our own suitcase ramp, something I usually always have with us. The Manageress was determined she’d find a solution for Finlay to enter. We managed to get him in and out with another stronger bit of plywood.
Once inside we found a lovely light and spacious super-king bedroom. Easy access bedside lights and plenty of clearance under the bed for a hoist if need be. The beds were also at a good height for self-transferring from a wheelchair.
All furniture is moveable making it easy to set-up for transfers onto the bed.
The wet-floor shower and access to the toilet was made problematic with a glass partition. This made transferring from a wheelchair impossible from the side. I found this quite disappointing as apart from this major barrier the access unit did well in terms of accessibility. For our Finlay though this didn’t pose too much of a problem apart from the lack of caregiver room. We use a shower commode that we can wheel in and out of both shower or over toilet. Generally our biggest challenge is finding the space to hoist in and out of the shower commode. We usually perform a transfer in the kitchen or bedroom as we often find space restrictive in a motel bathroom.
I did bring the partition barrier up with management, but their response wasn’t quite what I expected. Apparently, they had received a number of complaints about the toilet being wet by their able-bodied guests using the room. In response to the complaints they built a glass partition wall to remedy the problem. I pointed out that maybe a curtain which went all around would be a better option. Unfortunately they didn’t agree with me but did advise that their other studio access unit being slightly bigger than this unit didn’t have the barrier glass partition in.
Our advice would be to book Studio Access Unit One to insure you get a bathroom you can use.
We couldn’t view the other access unit at the time as it was occupied.
Two-Bedroom Family Unit
This is the room Finlay stayed in. We didn’t use the bathroom in the access studio unit in the end. The family unit worked well for us, the only challenge was the soft carpet being hard to push a mobile hoist across.
The main room with a king bed is where Finlay slept. He was able to enjoy watching the TV up on the wall from bed. The room was just off the living room. The clearance under the bed was the best we’d ever come across for our hoist. The bed itself was ideal for self-transferring from wheelchair.
The second bedroom consisted of two king-size beds.
I would like to have said that the toilet had room enough for wheelchair transfer, but sadly not in this unit either. However, we did find the spa bath included in here along with a cubicle shower.
On a whole this isn’t a bad place to stay particularly if you can secure the Access Studio Unit One. To get anywhere we’d advise you drive and not try and walk or wheel into town. We did find some great mobility parks beside the i-SITE Information Centre which is very central to plenty of eateries.
For More Information
Things to do
We were here to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set which was located a 15-minute drive away. You can read our review of the awesome time there here.