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Discover Christchurch New Zealand wheelchair accessible attractions, things to do, tours and activities for disabled travelers. Read our informative review to learn if the Christchurch Rebuild Tour, the Christchurch Canterbury Museum and the bus from Akaroa to Christchurch are wheelchair accessible and wheelchair friendly or if Wheelchair Jimmy recommends this attraction be avoided by travelers in wheelchairs.

An earthquake occurred in Christchurch on 22 February 2011 at 12:51 p.m. local time and registered 6.3 on the Richter scale. The earthquake struck the Canterbury Region in New Zealand’s South Island and was centered 1.2 miles west of the port town of Lyttelton, and 6 miles south-east of the centre of Christchurch, at the time New Zealand’s second-most populous city. The earthquake caused widespread damage across Christchurch, killing 185 people in the nation’s third deadliest natural disaster.

The Rebuild Tour covers a number of things: The City’s vibrant past – Including the history of Christchurch’s pre-earthquake buildings and features; the seismic forces at work in the region – Including the events of the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes and the devastation they caused; the innovative transitional projects – Including the Re:START Mall, Greening the Rubble, Gap Filler and Street Art; the technology involved in the rebuild – The tour will explain some of the lessons learnt from the regions seismic events and point out buildings that incorporate this new technology; and the plans for the future – Including artist’s impressions and concept designs of new buildings and precincts in the Christchurch city.

Canterbury Museum has a rich and fascinating history, and an exciting future. Highlights of the Museum include the world’s greatest collection of artefacts from the heroic age of discovery in Antarctica, the Māori collections in the Iwi Tawhito and Ngā Taonga galleries, and the quirky kiwiana of Fred & Myrtle’s Paua Shell House at Canterbury Museum.

Canterbury Museum Website

  1. City Attraction Wheelchair Accessible:       Yes (buses, museum & gardens)
  2. Fully Accessible Entry:                                    Yes (buses, museum & gardens)
  3. Accessible Restrooms Onsite:                        Yes (Canterbury museum)
  4. Restrictive Steps:                                              No Restrictive Steps

Jim’s Accessibility Comments:

Akaroa, New Zealand is located on the Banks Peninsula situated off the east coast of the south island. And it is the alternate port for cruise ships while Christchurch is being rebuilt subsequent to the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. Upon anchoring in the bay, our Princess Cruise then transported passengers who wished to go ashore via a small Tender craft.

Akaroa is a very small, very cute French cultured coastal village which is very level and wheelchair accessible. You can easily roll throughout the town and there’s even a wheelchair accessible public restroom. But there’s not much to do in Akaroa although there are a few cute shops and restaurants. So you might  also consider either the small scenic boat excursions or the bus to ChristChurch (which is what we did).

Not all the buses in Akaroa are accessible but there is a wheelchair accessible Red Bus (with a fold down ramp which will work for most normal width manual wheelchairs but they were not the most accessible buses I’ve seen resulting from having to make a tight/sharp turn upon entering the bus). It’s also much cheaper to buy a bus ticket in Akaroa rather than in advance. It’s an hour and 20 minute very scenic ride to Christchurch and the bus will drop you off in front of the Canterbury Museum where you’ll board another Red bus for what’s called the ChristChurch Rebuild Bus Tour that offers a unique guided experience around what was, what is, and what the future holds for the post-earthquake central city of Christchurch. The earthquakes of 2010 & 2011 devasted ChristChurch with 185 people killed and 80% of all buildings lost including most hotels, restaurants and retail. TRAVEL WARNING: if you’re a wheelchair traveler, it will be many years until ChristChurch will be rebuilt so for the next few years please be mindful before booking any long term relaxing vacation trips here.

I’m not used to being couped up on a bus for half a day but this day was a fantastic eye opening experience and was well worth the effort. And when we got back to Akaroa we still had plenty of time to mosey threw the town and shops.

Canterbury Museum
 If you get to Christchurch you may wish to visit  the museum which was built in a Gothic Revival architectural style that was originally opened in 1870. It is very well nicely done, informative, free and very wheelchair accessible. There is wheelchair accessible parking, restrooms and café.

Botanical Gardens: Located adjacent to the Canterbury Museum are the Botanical Gardens also established around 1870. You should be sure to see the rose garden which for much of the year displays more than 250 different roses which makes this a colorful and fragrant place. These beautiful botanical gardens are on a level area and very wheelchair accessible. You’ll find an accessible restroom in Canterbury Museum.