Accessibility New Zealand North Island

A week-end in Hawke’s Bay

1 May 2017

Easter comes with public holidays so we wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to take advantage of these days to discover a new part of north island east coast: Hawke’s Bay.

After four hours driving from Wellington here we are! Hawke’s Bay is a beautiful region. I think it represents well New Zealand as we can easily picture it and as I discovered it in the Northland at the beginning of our adventures in the All Blacks country. All around us there are so many green hills.

The view from Te Mata Peak.

The view from Te Mata Peak.

On these hills we can distinguish a lot of white dots: sheeps. They are hundreds of them grazing herb on steep hills slopes. There are also many others animals in the area. While driving through these lands we saw cows, billy goats and also some deers. I was also happy to wake up with the Tui song, those endemic birds from New Zealand. Even after several months here I still enjoy to listen to them. Hawke’s Bay fields is also well-known for its vineyards. So we saw a lot of them along the road and also many orchard. It is almost impossible to drive during five minutes without passing just near a paddock full of apple trees.

Day 1 : Te Mata Peak and Napier

After a good night of sleep, couchsurfing at Mike’s place in Havelock North, we are ready to discover Hawke’s Bay. Today the program includes Te Mata Peak in the morning and Napier during the afternoon.

Te Mata Peak

Te Mata Peak is one of the more beautiful summit in the north island east coast. It is located near Havelock North. If the weather is sunny it is possible to see far away, almost all Hawke’s Bay: the coast, Hastings and even Napier which is situated 23 kilometres from there.
A lovely day.

A lovely day.

There are a few walks which can be done at Te Mata Peak. Some reach the summit. These walks look really cool but unfortunately none of them seems to be wheelchair accessible as pathways are narrow and some are very steep.
Inaccessible for a wheelchair user but for other people it is possible to walk on the crest.

Inaccessible for a wheelchair user but for other people it is possible to walk on the crest.

Walks are not accessible but it is still possible to drive to the summit. There is a carpark but no specific spot for disabled people. Also there is no toilets at all in Te Mata Peak. From the carpark there is a pathway to go to the summit view point. The very beginning is a bit damaged and there is a slope to go up but it is possible.

Let's go to the summit!

Let’s go to the summit!


Napier is well-known city because of its art-deco architecture. On the 3rd of February 1931 the city was devastated by a important earthquake. 256 people died and hundreds were injured. Town buildings were damaged and finally demolished. Despite the situation Napier inhabitants succeeded to find their way and took advantage of this natural catastrophe to rebuild buildings in a art-deco style. That was a great idea: Napier is now one of the most visited city in New Zealand.

the Daily Telegraph building, one of the most famous in Napier.

The Daily Telegraph building, one of the most famous in Napier.

Before visiting Napier I heard a lot about it. Now I can tell it is true this is beautiful and it makes us feel like in “The Great Gatsby” movie but I was still a bit disappointed. No doubt my expectations were too high.

Near the promenade and the sea.

Near the promenade and the sea.

On the contrary I was not expecting as many ancient cars.  As it is possible to rent them we can see them all around the city. I was surprised it is so successful . Even some tourists wear odd clothes and hats!

Let's go back to Roaring Twenties!

Let’s go back to Roaring Twenties!

I was also pleasantly surprised by the seafront. It is possible to walk all along it. We can see the coast far away. Waves are enormous, impressive. They come to break loudly and recover black sand with foam. Waves are so powerful and dangerous that swimming in that beach is forbidden.

View from the headland.

View from the headland.

An artificial headland has been build along the promenade near the city centre. Going to the end of it allows us to have a good look at those huge waves emerging and breaking on the sand. If we go further away, outside of the city centre, we can also watch the bay from a good spot, observe kitesurfers and eating a good fish and chips (Westshore Fish Cafe – 112 Charles Street). For those who want a tasty ice cream to finish their meal don’t miss “Gelato U2” in town (101 Marine Parade). Franck chose an apple crumble scoop and I had a coconut/apricot scoop. Both of them were delicious.

In front of the sea, protected from pilfering seagull.

In front of the sea, protected from pilfering seagull.

Napier is easy to visit in a wheelchair. The entire touristic area is flat. There are disabled parking places and sidewalks are easy to up and down. The promenade walkway along the ocean and the artificial headland are fully accessible. You will find toilets just near the I-Site. It costs 20 cents to use, but it is free if you are a wheelchair. The only toilet accessible in the one which stay open 24/24 while the others close. That means it is not as clean and there is no light in it.

Jour 2 : Hastings, Havelock North and the surroundings

The day after we started the day by going to the farmers market in Hastings. Every Sunday you will find there fruits, vegetables, cheeses, breads, cafes, oils and others local products. We can also buy some German or French pastries. I even found figs! I was looking for them for a month as this is not a commun dish in New Zealand. There are also many food stalls to takeaway and eat on one of the many seats in the middle of the stalls. Despite surrounded by good food we stay reasonable and had a pastry each : an easter bun for me (chocolat, nuts and cinnamon) and a bretzel for Franck.

Such a pleasure to find good bread!

Such a pleasure to find good bread!

After this yummy break let’s go to the Maraetotara Falls. This waterfall is located further away Te Mata Peak, 16 kilometres from Haveloch North. It is not an easy place to find. The first time we just passed it and went too far away. So when you see a board advising you to keep your car close because of thieves, you have to stop and park there. That’s here. But I have to warn you: this walk is not accessible at all.  There are steps, roots and the soil is uneven.
Maraetotara Falls.

Maraetotara Falls.

At the end the day we went to “Ocean Beach Lookout” before having a nap along the sea and reading books. “Ocean Beach Lookout” unveils a beautiful view on another part of the east coast. This is a lovely spot but there are only 2/3 parking spaces.
The view from "Ocean Beach Lookout".

The view from “Ocean Beach Lookout”.

You want to travel all around New Zealand? Find many ideas of awesome destinations in north island and south island in my other articles as well as wheelchair accessibility tips.

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