As a general rule I am well prepared for our travels and spend considerable time researching accessibility. Occasionally, I either don’t have time to plan every detail, or we decide to do something spontaneous. The results are often mixed and it’s a good reminder that research and planning are key to a successful accessible experience. While I usually only share positive experiences, I think it’s good to show the reality of our travels because it isn’t always smooth sailing. Although our side-trip to The Blue Pools wasn’t easy, we did manage it with some muscle from Hubby.
Driving between Queenstown and Franz Josef we were keen to break up the journey with some stops along the way. The beautiful Blue Pools are located on the West Coast of New Zealand between Wanaka and Franz Josef.
I’d seen photos of Blue Pools and the amount of cars stopped along the road near the entrance made me want to give it a go. We obviously were not the only people keen to stroll in the beech/tawhero forest. The start of the walk looked fairly level and manageable, particularly because we were travelling with BJ’s off-road tyres. We decided to start the walk and turn around if it became too difficult.
We were optimistic given the accessibility at the start.
In the beginning the only obstacle we experienced was the grates, but they were manageable with BJ’s tyres.
The scenery along the way was beautiful and we passed plenty of friendly travellers. I decided to ask a few people, who were on their return, about the accessibility ahead. Most people paused for a minute before assuring us we’d be fine. Naturally people who don’t find stairs an obstacle often don’t pay attention to where they are walking and any potential obstacles for a wheelchair user. This became abundantly clear when we hit our first stumbling block.
Despite a formidable staircase, we’d walked and pushed BJ in his wheelchair too far not to get to a good viewing point.
BJ loved the suspension bridge that spans Makarora River. We were pleased we could experience it as a family, even if it was such hard work.
It’s a shame there’s such a staircase because so much of the walk is accessible with lovely boardwalks.
New Zealand certainly has many wheelchair accessible walks and experiences. Although we enjoyed the spontaneity of our stop at Blue Pools, it was tough going. We stand by our usual advice to research and plan all travel to ensure access success, even your stops.
Off-road tyres were a game-changer for us in New Zealand and if you’d like to read more about them, you can do so in our review.
If you’d like our general New Zealand travel tips, you can find them here.
One of our favourite New Zealand experiences was had in the town of Franz Josef which you can read about in this review.