Information for travellers with a disability
In general New Zealand is a disabled-traveller friendly destination.
New Zealand law requires that every new building and major reconstruction provide 'reasonable and adequate' access for people with restricted mobility. Public buildings, museums and galleries are generally accessible to disabled travellers, although restaurants and public transport can be less so. Most accommodation providers have at least one room designed or modified for disabled access and use, but the level of these facilities and access can vary considerably.
New Zealand offers a wide selection of activity options, and nearly everywhere there is a range of activities to suit most levels of ability, with many local operators prepared to go that extra distance to enable travellers with special needs to participate.
For information on bringing a guide dog into New Zealand, please read the Biosecurity New Zealand User Guide on Importing Assistance Dogs from All Countries.
A number of international airlines service New Zealand, along with the country's own airline, Air New Zealand, which has an extensive international and national air transport network. The Air New Zealand website provides further information about their Special Assistance Travel Support service.
Airports in New Zealand are accessible. For those with restricted mobility, the ease of boarding an aircraft will vary depending on individual circumstances, the size of the aircraft and the size of the airport. Boeing aircraft service the larger centres (Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin) and are usually boarded via an air bridge. Other smaller airports with smaller aircraft use a forklift to assist boarding a person in a wheelchair or, alternatively, the passenger is assisted to transfer to a transit chair, carried up the stairs and transferred into the allocated seat.
Generally speaking, travellers requiring special assistance will be first on and last off the plane.
Taxi companies in the main centres and larger towns operate vans equipped with hoists and floor clamps. These vehicles are referred to as Total Mobility Vans. These vans should be booked through the local taxi service several hours in advance, if possible.
Taxi companies are also required to display a sign in Braille giving the name of the taxi company, the taxi's unique fleet number and the taxi company's contact number for complaints.
Parking concessions are available for people with mobility restrictions, and temporary display cards can be obtained to cover the length of stay. These parking concession cards are used for car parking spaces specifically designated as accessible parks and identified by the International Access Symbol. Most parking areas have such parks specifically allocated. To be eligible for this concession a person must:
- Be unable to walk and be reliant on a wheelchair for mobility, or
- Rely on mobility devices (for example crutches, walking sticks, walking frames), or
- Be unable to walk unassisted for more than 200 metres, because of the nature or severity of the condition.
The parking concession card scheme is administered by CCS Disability Action, who will require your home mobility card or a medical certificate as proof of disability. Should you wish to apply for this concession, it is recommended that you make contact with CCS Disability Action prior to your arrival in New Zealand.
Over recent years shopping malls have become popular in the main centres throughout New Zealand. These provide access to a range of shops all under the one roof and also have accessible toilet facilities. Accessibility to shops varies in the smaller towns.
Toilets in new buildings are built to the New Zealand building code requirements and are accessible. Automatic public toilets of the Exeloo brand are increasingly found throughout New Zealand. These are suitable for all users, including people in wheelchairs, and have an automatic sliding door, sensor operated hand basin, and a spacious tiled interior. Find locations of Exeloo public toilets in New Zealand at the Exeloo website.