Accessible tours in New Zealand

Small group touring is definitely the most convenient and comfortable way to explore when it comes to accessible travel in New Zealand. Your requirements when it comes to accommodation, transport and activities can all be met with enough advance notice, and itineraries are carefully designed to ensure that they follow a relaxed pace with none of the rushing around that you get on some tours. ‘Easy does it’ is very much the name of the game here.
Such tours typically range in length from five to seven days and cover many of New Zealand’s most sought after regions and destinations including the Bay of Plenty and the Bay of Islands, Northland, Christchurch, Queenstown, the renowned Marlborough wine region and the Canterbury Plains. The overall atmosphere is one that really enables you to switch off and relax, since you can have the peace of mind that every detail throughout has been taken care of in advance.
Itineraries vary from taking in New Zealand’s cultural heritage around Rotorua and Kerikeri to the many idyllic gardens and farms on each island, coastal and harbor cruises as well as iconic natural landmarks such as Aoraki / Mt. Cook. These trips are not physically arduous, though they may involve some short walks in places. Many are arranged over the Christmas and New Year period allowing you to celebrate the season with welcoming local people in their own homes.

Accessible transport in New Zealand

Accessible New Zealand tours make use of small coaches that carry a maximum of 18 passengers. They are spacious, comfortable and air conditioned, and stop regularly for toilet breaks. Small coaches have a big advantage in that they can get to places that larger vehicles simply cannot. In a country renowned for its natural beauty you want to get as close as possible to the scenery, which these coaches allow, and it also means that walks are entirely optional if you prefer just to snap a few photos while stretching your legs. Groups usually rotate seats during the tour for added sociability and so that everyone gets to enjoy different views.

Do note however that while these coaches are perfectly suited for travelers with limited mobility, unfortunately they are not large enough to carry fixed wheelchairs. There is space for foldable chairs in the luggage compartment though. For additional convenience, door-to-door transfers are possible at accommodations and restaurants to keep the amount of walking needed to a minimum. For deaf travelers and those hard of hearing, the text for audio commentaries can be followed online as you travel.


On New Zealand accessible vacations you’ll typically be staying in hotels that are either centrally located or just outside key destinations. Wherever possible, accommodations are chosen that either have lifts or ground floor rooms. Furthermore, all luggage is handled at each stop by your guide and porters. Many itineraries build in two-night stopovers in some places to reduce the amount of packing and unpacking.
If you have any special dietary needs, whether due to allergies, intolerances or personal preferences, these can normally be accommodated with enough notice. New Zealand has a diverse and excellent cuisine, so no-one is going to be left eating chips or a basic salad for every meal.
Travel Team
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All trips are accompanied by a professional, helpful and super-friendly Kiwi guide. They provide an interesting commentary throughout, and for deaf travelers or those with limited hearing, these can also be read online.
Itineraries covering either the North or South Island, or both, frequently focus on visiting some of New Zealand’s most beautiful and prestigious private gardens, many of which hold national significance. These visits will often feature lunch in the owner’s home, a perfect opportunity to learn more about each garden’s history and how it is maintained. You may also stop to wander historic gold mining communities such as Arrowtown, near Queenstown; the stunning ‘Garden City’ of Christchurch; and the rhododendrons that blanket the slopes of Mount Taranaki (buggies are available here to take you around rainforest pathways).
You may pause for photos of the national icon Aoraki / Mount Cook, where Sir Edmund Hillary practiced for his ascent of Mount Everest; cruise the heavenly Bay of Islands in search of dolphins, or lunch in a vineyard near Blenheim. Where walks are involved, they are easygoing, over predominantly gentle terrain, and always optional.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Curioso] [Topbox: Haziq Tumaran] [Accommodation: Simon_sees] [Activities: indigoMood]