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Plenty To Do on New Zealand’s North Island

Bay of Plenty is a slice of paradise on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, with lots of accessible experiences to try.

Te Moananui ā Toi | the Coastal Bay of Plenty, is a slice of paradise on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Made up of some of the country’s best beaches and outdoor trails, it’s a beautiful and exciting place for a holiday. 

The region is working toward expanding its accessible tourism offering and while it is still a work in progress, there are some wonderful experiences that you can take advantage of right now – especially if you love beaches and the great outdoors!

Tracks and Trails

There are many stunning walks in this region, and none is more famous than Mauao (Mount Maunganui), a dormant volcano steeped in Māori history and ancient stories. Access the summit with the TrailRider, a single wheeled e-powered mobility transport supporter. 

In the eastern part of the region, the White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve in Whakatāne contains huge kahikatea (white pine) trees and is a habitat for native birds. A 250-metre wheelchair-accessible walkway has been built into the heart of this reserve. 

Hit the beach

Maddison Snow & Michelle Kleynhans, from Goldfields School at Anzac Bay, Waihi Beach. Photo credit Anna Schroeder
Bay of Plenty’s Waihī Beach is beautiful, and accessibility is improving. Credit: Anna Schroeder

Beach accessibility options are growing, including beach mats (usually in use between October and April) and beach wheelchairs (available to book at Pāpāmoa Beach, Mount Maunganui Main Beach and Ōhope Beach).

Beautiful Waihī Beach has two beach wheelchairs and beach mats will be installed by late October 2021. There will also be a map available, highlighting the mobility offerings in the village.   

Adaptive Surfing & Sailing

Parafed Bay of Plenty and Hibiscus Surf School run adaptive surfing events at Mount Maunganui during the summer months. They also offer “Friday Float” sessions that assist people with disabilities in the ocean. If you’re keen on sailing in the beautiful Tauranga harbour, Sailability Tauranga is a volunteer-based organisation that provides sailing opportunities for all abilities.

Bayfair Shopping Centre

Bayfair has 130 stores and restaurants on offer. It’s the first shopping centre to ever secure a Be.Welcome Platinum ranking and offers many accessible options including a sensory room, developed with guidance from Autism New Zealand.

Blokart Sailing

Two people land sailing in wind-powered blokarts on a flat paved road
Land sailing in wind-powered blokarts is a unique Bay of Plenty experience.

Try “land sailing” in a wind-powered blokart! This fun activity was invented here in the Bay of Plenty and can be enjoyed using hand controls. Tandem karts are available ensuring those who cannot operate a blokart on their own can still enjoy the fun.

Mount Hot Pools

The famous salt water hot pools at the base of Mauao (Mount Maunganui) are a must when you visit the Bay. The pools offer a water wheelchair and hoist to assist customers in and out of the pools.

For more information on an accessible holiday to the coastal Bay of Plenty, check out their website.

This story first appeared in Travel Without Limits magazine. You can subscribe here.

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