Rotorua with Flexi Tours

This tour visits Rotorua with stops at Rainbow Springs, Te Puia and Wai-O-Tapu.  I’m picked up in a mini bus by Mike from Flexi Tours.  This mini bus is similar to a Toyota HiAce but the door on this bus did not open all the way so it was a little difficult to transfer from the floor to the seat, just not a lot of room.  There are 4 other people on the tour.  Flexi Tours gives you the option to choose 2 different things to see based on your likes.  The two I picked are Rainbow Springs and Wai-O-Tapu.  I’m the only one who chooses these two options.  Some other options are Hobbiton, to see sites from Lord of the Rings but the buses that take you to the sites are not wheelchair accessible, a day at the spa and Waitomo Caves, which is not wheelchair accessible.  Rainbow Springs is a wildlife park with mostly reptiles, birds and fish.  It is fairly accessible with mostly hills with slight grades except getting to the kiwi exhibit.  This is a very steep hill I did not try to go down.  That is the only area I was not able to see. The wildlife park does have an accessible bathroom.

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Mike picks me up from Rainbow Springs then we head to Te Puia for lunch, to see the geyser and traditional Maori houses.  Lunch was Hangi, a traditional Maori way of cooking with heated rocks buried in a pit. This Hangi was chicken, corn, sweet potato and stuffing.  Lunch was excellent.  After lunch, I first go see the mud pools then to Kereru Geyser, Prince of Wales Feathers Geyer and Pohutu Geyser.  There is a steep hill to get to the mud pool that I was able to go down myself.  There is a shorter steep hill to the geysers I was able to go down and get up myself.  The pathways to the geysers are paved except the area by the geyser which is very hard packed dirt that is very uneven.  There is much more to see but these are the only areas accessible by wheelchair.  I needed pushed back up the hill by the mud pool.  I see no way to make this less steep because the paved walkway follows the natural terrain.  There is an accessible bathroom at Te Puia.

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After making it back up the hill I go see the Maori houses.  The houses are in an area of loosely packed gravel that was not too difficult to wheel through.

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Next, Mike and I head to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland which I need a fair amount of help because of the steep hills and gravel pathways.  Wai-O-Tapu is free to wheelchair users and after going through I know why.   All I’m able to do is walk 1.  No chance of doing this by yourself in a manual wheelchair and there are sections wheelchairs cannot go.  It is worth the trouble going through because the views are impressive. Wheelchair users will need help.

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The Flexi Tour was very good.  Rainbow Springs was ok but really not much to see.  The other two attractions made the trip worthwhile.  Mike was great helping out through the Thermal Wonderland and went beyond what he had to do. It would be good for Hobbiton to get a wheelchair accessible vehicle but I don’t know how accessible the attraction is.  Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is free for wheelchair users because of how difficult it is to get around.  The tour lasted 10 hours so be ready for a fairly long day.  I would recommend Flexi Tours to any able body person.  Wheelchair users need to be aware of the difficulty of several attractions.  Accessibility wise the tour would receive a 1.5/5 rating.

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