Palliser Bay Tour with Hammonds Scenic Tours

I head southeast of Wellington to Palliser Bay.  I’m picked up in Toyota HiAce minibus by Craig from Tranzit Tours formally Hammonds Tours.  There are only 2 other people on the tour.  I transfer to the floor of the minibus then to the seat. Craig removes the wheels from my wheelchair and places the chair in the back of the bus.  We drive through Wairarapa Valley but can’t see anything because of the low hanging clouds.  On our way to the lighthouse, we stop to see seals hanging out on the rocks in Palliser Bay and happen to see a pod of dolphins swimming in the bay.  I need a little help through the rough gravel to get close to see the seals.

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We make our way to Cape Palliser Lighthouse built in 1897.  No possible way for a wheelchair user to make it up 250 steps for a view from the lighthouse but there is an accessible bathroom by the parking lot. I see no way to make it accessible for a wheelchair user to make it up to the lighthouse.

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Lunch is at Lake Ferry Hotel.  The Lake Ferry Hotel is accessible through the back entrance and has an accessible bathroom.  We stop in Gnaw, which is a popular for cray fishing.  The sand is so soft they need bulldozers to launch the boats and pull them from the water.

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After this we go for a wine tasting at Te Kairanga Vineyard.  It is accessible with a ramp to the tasting room but the bathroom is not accessible.  The Reserve Chardonnay was my favorite.  Next is a visit to Kaitoke National Park to see Rivendell, a site from Lord of The Rings.  It is loosely packed gravel with a hill Craig pushes me up. The only way to make this easy to wheel on is to pave the walkway.  It is located in a National Park so this may not be possible.

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The tour was good except for the weather.  Craig was very helpful the couple times I needed help.  He was very informative during the tour. The tour is not too long at about 8-1/2 hours. I would highly recommend taking a tour with Tranzit/Hammonds Tours for any able body person. Getting up to see the lighthouse for a wheelchair user will be almost impossible. A manual wheelchair user may need help wheeling through the gravel to see the seals and the Lord of The Rings site.  There’s nothing to be done to make the places that were not accessible any more accessible. Accessibility wise this tour would receive a 1.5/5 rating.

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