I get picked for the East Coast Tour with Kiwi Coastal Tours at my hostel by Craig, the driver of the minibus I was in, Gary, the owner of Kiwi Coastal and his wife Maraea. Craig was a warrior in battle scenes in Lord of The Rings and made leather shoes and jewelry for The Hobbit. The Toyota HiAce minibus is similar to others I’ve done tours with. Gary and Craig would like me to sit in the front passenger seat. The seat was a little too high to transfer but Craig helped out. I was able to transfer down to my wheelchair without help. The wheels of my chair were removed and the wheelchair was stored In the back of the bus. We start the tour with a blessing by Gary in the native Maori language. We stopped on our way to Hawkins Hill for a view overlooking Wellington.
Next it’s up even higher to the highest point overlooking the Wind Turbines of Te Kopahou. The grass is tall in places but Craig helps push me through.
We stop by a reindeer farm to feed the reindeers bread that Gary has gotten to eat from his hand through the years. There’s a steep grass incline to get up to the fence to feed the reindeer that Gary helps me up.
We head down close to the beach for a few photos then head back up the mountain to continue the tour. I did not get out of the minibus by the beach because the terrain was rocky. We make a few stops in the mountains to feed the pigs, but they don’t show up, photos and information from Gary on some of the plants. It’s time for lunch at Bach Cafe, owned by Gary and Maraea, between Owhiro and Island Bay. Lunch is included is the price of the tour. It’s accessible with two ramps to get in, one for the side entrance and one in front to the outside deck. You can also reach the outside deck through the inside eating area. Bach Cafe also has an accessible bathroom. After lunch, we drive by the site of the inter-island ferry ship wreck T.E.V. Wahine on April 10, 1968 in heavy seas where 51 people lost their lives.
We pass by Breaker Bay on our way to Mt. Victoria to view Wellington from across the bay before heading back to Wellington.
The tour was excellent with a bunch of information from Craig, Gary and Maraea. There’s a limited amount of wheeling or walks on this tour. I only needed help in the tall grass overlooking the Wind Turbines, to get up the incline to feed the reindeers and in the bus a couple times. It would have been easier to get in the bus the way I have in the past, transferring to the floor of the minibus then transferring up to the seat. The tour is not too long at about 7-1/2 hours. I would highly recommend taking a tour with Kiwi Coastal for any able body person or manual wheelchair user that is active. There’s nothing to be done to make the places that were not accessible any more accessible. Kiwi Coastal Tours were very professional, give a lot of information and you get to see some amazing views. Accessibility wise this tour would receive a 3/5 rating.