Christchurch is the gateway to New Zealand’s South Island. Bordered by hills and the Pacific Ocean, it is situated on the edge of the Canterbury Plains that stretch to the Southern Alps. The city is home to 404,500 residents, making it New Zealand’s third biggest city after Auckland and Wellington. The Avon River flows through the middle of the city, with an urban park located along its banks. Named after the River Avon in Scotland. Christchurch wheelchair access is quite good, with public transport the noticeable ‘fail’ in our disability travel experience to this beautiful city.
The arts have been embraced by the people of Christchurch. Visitors are encouraged to check out the Christchurch Art Gallery.
The gallery building is a beautiful modern building with full wheelchair access.
The Centre of Contemporary Art (CoCA) is also worth a visit. CoCA’s exhibitions emphasise local artistry, from the Canterbury region and New Zealand alike.
You will also find sculptures and urban art throughout the city. Murals occupy much of the public space. It was a delight to see construction hoardings and the walls of many buildings covered in beautiful art.
Akaroa is another must. We rented an accessible vehicle for the scenic drive to Akaroa. Just 75 kilometres from the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, Akaroa is a historic French and British
settlement nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano. Explore the village with its colonial architecture, galleries, craft stores, and cafés. Relax or take part in the many activities that are on offer. Explore the dramatic outer bays and take your time to soak in the magic of this area.
One of the tour boats has wheelchair access, so make sure you check first and book the right boat.
Lake Tekapo and Hanmer Springs
Two popular locations for day trips just out of Christchurch are Lake Tekapo and Hanmer Springs. They are both popular Alpine villages in the winter. We visited in the middle of summer. Hanmer Springs has thermal springs and people are encouraged to have a swim and sample the local food from the cafes in the main street.
Our favourite trip was to Lake Tekapo. It is a lovely drive and when you get to the lake, even in the summer you can see this native mountains from the Observatory on the top of the hill which also has a brilliant view of the lake.
Attractions and Opportunities
Christchurch wheelchair access transport providers typically provide wheelchair ramps, hand rails, low steps and other disabled access facilities and services. You can search availability at Christchurch Accessible Transport. However wheelchair accessible taxis are very hard to come by when you need one. Also hand rails and ‘low steps’ are not much help if you are a quadriplegic in a motorised wheelchair.
Christchurch wheelchair access starts at the Airport which has really good access. They have a website with any access information about the airport you may need.
The evening we arrived at Christchurch airport we were unable to get a wheelchair-accessible taxi. We tried every company but no luck. We were told to get a wheelchair access taxi ‘after hours’ you needed to book well in advance. As a result, our first night in Christchurch was spent not sleeping in our hotel room,. but sleeping in the First Aid room at Christchurch airport.
The staff at the airport were great, but the taxi services were not very good at all. The message is, if you are going to need a special wheelchair access taxi from the airport, make sure you book it well in advance of your flight.
Freedom Mobility came to our rescue. They specialise in Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles and we rented a van from them that allowed us to fully explore the region. Wherever you are travelling in NZ Freedom Mobility have you covered.