Queenstown’s the home of accessible and inclusive adventures. Our attractions welcome visitors with access needs. Many have worked with inclusive adventure specialists like Makingtrax to ensure anyone, no matter your age or ability, can experience the thrills Queenstown has to offer.
We’ve put together this guide to inclusive adventures to help you plan your visit to Queenstown. There are hundreds of adventures in the region, and this isn’t an exhaustive list, so our top tip is to get in touch with an attraction before you visit and explain your needs. Queenstown is full of people passionate about adventure who’ll do everything they can to make sure you have a great time.
1. Shotover Canyon Swing
If you’ve always wanted to jump off a cliff, the Shotover Canyon Swing crew will make it happen at the world’s highest cliff jump.
They’ve worked with inclusive tourism expert Jezza Williams from Makingtrax to improve their inclusivity for almost a decade, and they’re stoked to be a Gold Seal member of the Makingtrax directory of inclusive adventures in Otago.
Sales manager Salmon explains, “Getting here is easy, we can arrange transport for you, and the cliff jump is accessible for everyone. The only thing is, we’re not fully accessible in the normal sense because our access track is tricky. If you’re in a wheelchair or find rough terrain difficult, you can’t just roll in and out yourself. But we’re here to make it possible for you. We love helping everyone get out there and have fun, and we’ll ensure you’re happy, comfortable and confident.”
Find out more about Canyon Swing’s inclusive adventures here.
2. iFLY Indoor Skydiving
You know those dreams where you’re weightless, soaring over the earth? Well, New Zealand’s only indoor skydiving adventure, iFLY is like that, only indoors, and real.
iFLY believe everyone should be able to fly, regardless of your physical or cognitive abilities. Sales and marketing manager Jason says, “We promise flight for all ages and all abilities, and it’s very matter of fact for us. We don’t have big signs saying we’re inclusive because we don’t want to single people out. It’s just about welcoming people, helping everyone feel involved and included.”
“Our building is 100% accessible, we’ve been working with Jezza from Making Trax since we opened, and we’ve worked with people with access needs to test and refine our processes. If you want to fly at iFLY, it doesn’t matter what your access needs are, there is no barrier to you experiencing flight. You can get help from our specially trained flight instructors, who are used to helping people overcome a range of challenges, for example, we have a custom leg brace created in partnership with Making Trax.”
Find out more about iFLY’s all abilities flight offerings here.
Hear about how iFly helped Jack achieve his dream of human flight
3. Oxbow Adventure Co.
Oxbow Adventure Co offer three inclusive adventures at their Gibbston HQ near Queenstown. Choose from next-level jetboating in their et sprint boats, off-road thrills in their four-wheel drive all-terrain vehicles, and clay bird competition shooting.
Sales manager Fleur has worked with Making Trax since opening in 2020 to ensure everyone can experience all the adventures Oxbow has to offer. Fleur explains, “I’ve always been very passionate about inclusive tourism because people in my family have access needs, and our goal is to make all our adventures accessible. We’ve only been open a few months, and we’ve already got regular visitors with access needs who come back because they have so much fun. That’s a great feeling.”
“We really strive to live our promise 'epic every day'. It’s all about you, about getting to know you, and making sure you have a great time. If you have access needs, just get in touch and let us know your requirements when you book, so we can ensure our team are prepared to offer you everything you need to have a great experience.”
Oxbow Adventure Co. Off-Roader
4. AJ Hackett Bungy
The home of bungy, the crew at AJ Hackett are all about pushing limits, so they do their best to offer exhilarating adventures to all who love to challenge themselves.
Their Kawarau Bridge bungy site is the most inclusive, with accessible parking, bathrooms, and lift access. The outdoor deck overlooking the gorge is also wheelchair accessible, and the AJ Hackett team are always happy to help people get a great view of the action. If you’re keen to jump, they welcome folks with all access needs and can help you to the jump platform if you need support.
AJ Hackett also welcomes intrepid adventurers with access needs to the Nevis Swing, a giant swing with an impressive 300m arc, sure to deliver scream-inducing adrenaline. However, their transport to the Nevis isn’t fully accessible, so if you have a mobility impairment, bring a friend to help you in and out of the bus.
Because of the adventurous nature of AJ Hackett activities, they do have a few safety requirements and restrictions, so check out their terms and conditions, or give their crew a call to talk about your access needs.
Kawarau bungy bridge
5. Nomad Safaris
Nomad Safaris offer 4WD backcountry adventures, quad biking, guided walks and e-bike tours. One of their most popular tours is their Macetown 4WD adventure.
Owner David says, “We host a lot of older travellers and people with access difficulties, and our trips appeal because they’re adventures that by and large people can’t access themselves. We regularly do tours for people who are visually impaired or who’ve hearing difficulties. Every year a group of students with intellectual disabilities from Hillcrest High School do the Macetown tour with us, and they have a wonderful time. Last year we even took a man who’s a double amputee out quad biking.”
David is upfront about the adventures he offers. “It’s important to understand we’re using rough tracks put in by early pioneers with bumpy river crossings. We stop and get in and out the vehicle on a regular basis, and there are few bathrooms enroute.”
The Nomad Safari team aren’t able to lift people into their vehicles, so if you need that level of support David recommends bringing a crew to help. The other key restriction is the lack of accessible bathrooms. David says, “Just contact us in advance, so we understand what your needs are, and we’ll do our level best to give you a great time.”
Nomad Safaris 4WD adventure
6. Ziptrek Ecotours
This zipline eco-adventure on Bob’s Peak above Queenstown offers thrilling zipline tours where you’ll hear stories about the local wildlife and environment.
Director Trent says, “From the beginning, Ziptrek’s purpose has been to take people of all ages and mobilities into places they may not ordinarily be able to go. Ziplines are a great way to transport people long distances over challenging terrain. Giving everyone access to nature is vitally important to our mission to encourage sustainability.”
“From day one, we’ve had a lot of older travellers. That naturally evolved into thinking about how we can serve people with access needs, and we’ve worked with Be.Lab and Makingtrax to make Ziptrek as accessible as possible. We’ve hosted people who are tetraplegic, paraplegic, and visually impaired.”
Ziptrek is an adventure activity, so you’ll need to be able to wear a harness, sit upright, and negotiate stairs with the help of a support crew. There are some practical safety factors, so Trent and his team appreciate it if you book in advance and explain your needs, so they can give you the support you need.
Trent says, “If you’re aged between six and 100 and you can walk down three flights of stairs, you’re good to go. If you’ve access requirements, physical or otherwise, just give us a call. If you need a bit more time we might make some special arrangements around timing and staffing to make sure you have a great experience. We’ll only say no if we can’t make sure you’re safe.”
7. Skyline Gondola
This must-do Queenstown activity is inclusive and wheelchair friendly. The Gondola base station is easy to access off Brecon Street in downtown Queenstown and there are accessible parking spots beside the base station. The Gondola team can help you board and disembark from the Gondola cabin, and they can slow or stop the Gondola to make this process relaxed and comfortable.
Because of limited space in the Gondola cabin, if your wheelchair is large or heavier than 60kg, the gondola crew will help you transfer to the Gondola seat or provide a smaller wheelchair for the ride up. If your wheelchair can fold down, it will be placed in the Gondola with you, and you can transfer back into your own wheelchair at the top of the hill. Otherwise, you can borrow a wheelchair for your visit.
The Skyline viewing deck at the top of Bob’s Peak with its panoramic views of Queenstown and Lake Whakatipu, and the Stratosfare restaurant are accessible and there are accessible bathrooms. The team are welcoming and inclusive, accustomed to helping folks with access needs. The Gondola also provides access to Ziptrek Ecotours. You can watch Wheelchair Jimmy review his visit to the Gondola here.
Skyline Gondola at dusk
8. Shotover Jet
This thrilling jet boat ride through the dramatic Shotover Canyons is one of Queenstown’s quintessential experiences, and the crew have done their best to make the experience as inclusive and accessible as possible.
You can drive yourself to Shotover Jet HQ or take their shuttle vans with handrails and a large side door to provide better access, and space to store a folded wheelchair if needed. The Shotover Jet crew can provide assisted access from the car park to the base building and down to the beach. You can also drive down to the riverside to make access easier, but please arrange this with Shotover Jet first.
You’ll need to wear a lifejacket and be able to make a small step in and out of the boat. There’s a riverside ramp to help make boat access easier, and the Shotover Jet crew can help you board. Makingtrax and Shotover Jet recommend that you travel with support people if you can’t hold on to the rails to keep yourself upright in the boat.
Shotover Jet recommend that you get in touch when you make your booking and explain your access needs, so they can make sure your trip is as enjoyable as possible and give you all the support you need to enjoy their wild ride.
9. Queenstown Paraflights
Parasailing above Lake Whakatipu gives you panoramic views out over the lake, the surrounding mountains and Queenstown itself. It’s not for nothing that Queenstown Paraflight’s chutes are giant yellow smiling faces.
Owner Quinn explains, “We can fly almost anyone. So long as you can sit upright in our comfortable seated harnesses, you can fly. We’ve flown a wide range of people with access needs, and I can’t think of anyone we haven’t yet been able to take up.”
The Queenstown Paraflights crew are there to support you through the whole experience. They can help you board the boat and will help get you harnessed up. Quinn recommends booking in advance to make sure you get the time you want and letting the team know your access needs, so they can give you the support you need. Quinn also suggests flying with a travel buddy. He says, “Our chutes can fly up to three people together and it’s fun and can give you more confidence when you fly with a friend.”
Being inclusive and accessible is important to Quinn and his team. He explains, “I think everybody should be able to fly. It’s so peaceful and quiet floating up there, it’s the best feeling in the world, and I want everyone to have that experience.”
10. Over The Top Helicopters
One of the most memorable ways to experience Queenstown and our spectacular surrounds is to take a scenic helicopter flight. The crew at Over the Top Helicopters offer scenic flights around Queenstown, and beyond to the West Coast, Milford Sound, Fiordland, and Stewart Island.
Their marketing and operations manager Pedro Martinez explains, “We always go above and beyond to ensure our guests with access needs have a wonderful time. Our founder Louisa’s philosophy is that we are all ambassadors for Queenstown, so we’re all about creating a rich experience where everyone is comfortable.”
Over The Top shut their helicopters down on every landing to make boarding a peaceful, safe experience without the noise and proximity of the rotors.
Pedro says, “Helicopters aren’t the easiest thing to access, but we do our very best to meet everyone’s needs. You can fly with a support person, our pilots are delighted to help lift you in and out of the aircraft, and if you need extra help, we’ll send another member of the team too. If it’s too tricky to get in and out the helicopter at some of the more remote landing sites, we’ll make sure you’re positioned right by the open door, so you can see everything, and be part of the whole experience.”
Over The Top experiences include pavlova on a peak, glacier landings, fly fishing and private heli skiing. Trips can be tailored to meet your needs, for example, they can land in places where tracks are more accessible. Helicopters have storage space for a fold-up wheelchair, so you can bring your chair with you.
Over The Top would love to fly more people with access needs. Pedro says, “We don’t host as many guests with access needs as we’d like, maybe because there’s uncertainty around helicopter flights being accessible. So, we’d like to assure you that we would love to fly you, and whatever your access needs are, we’ll make it work. No one has ever not been able to fly.”
Find out more about Over The Top’s inclusive air adventures here.
Scenic flights in winter with Over The Top Helicopters