My trip with Aotea Roadies is Southern Secrets. I was the only person on the tour and hung out with Zana, one of the owners of the company. I’m picked up in a minibus. I transfer to the floor of the minibus then to the seat. Zana removes the wheels from my wheelchair and places the chair in the back of the bus. We start the tour at the Auckland Botanic Gardens. A very nice gardens with some hills that I need help on. We see about 30% of the gardens and there are few areas we don’t go because the hills are fairly steep. We spend about an hour and half in the gardens then have a nice break with coffee and a snack in the gardens.
With me being the only person on the tour, I decide to sit in the front seat to make it easier for us to talk. It’s a much more difficult transfer. I have her pull up close to the curb to make it easier to transfer gaining a little height. Our next stop is Hunua Falls. There is a flat path paved about half way then tight packed gravel to the falls. To get to another vantage point of the falls there is a very steep ramp up to the bridge that crosses to the other side. ADA code in the USA is 1 foot in length per 1” in height. Example: for 24” in total height the ramp must be 24 feet long. Extending ramps as long as possible to make them as accessible as possible is recommended. I need help up the ramp and after crossing the bridge I need help up one step to go down the dirt/gravel trail. Most of the trail I was able to wheel myself and needed help up two hills. There are other trails that I was not able to do because they are not accessible. I needed help back down the step but I was able to go down the ramp by myself. There is enough room to extend the ramp but it would need to be extended at least 7 meters. The park does have an accessible bathroom.
We stop off at John Hill Estate for a wine tasting and lunch. Zana’s husband and other owner Brian met us for lunch. John Hill Estate is a very young vineyard only being open 10 years. They do have an accessible bathroom. I do another wine tasting at Villa Maria Estate. On the way back to Auckland we make a quick stop by Cornwall Park overlooking the city.
Aotea Roadies is a very good tour operator with two great owners. My time spent with them was very enjoyable and something I will remember. It was very laid back and they will modify the trip based on what you prefer to do. It was like hanging out with friends for the day. The Auckland Botanic Gardens was part of the Southern Secrets Tour but I would recommend returning to the gardens to spend more time. A wheelchair user will need help around parts of the gardens, up the ramp to cross the bridge at Hunua Falls and through parts of the trails. Accessibility wise this tour would receive a 2/5 rating.