It's high time accommodation and transport providers pay more attention to an eager travel market who have long been ignored, writes Juliette Sivertsen.
Chris Wilcox dreams of going on a horse riding trek in a remote part of the South Island.
The Auckland woman rides with Riding for the Disabled, but as a permanent wheelchair user, facilities required during these sorts of backcountry adventures mean she often misses out on ticking off her bucket list.
"I'm not sure if that would be available to me, because of the accommodation and bathroom facilities along the way," says Chris.
The 68-year-old has been in a wheelchair for the last 10 years, as a result of a tumour on her spinal cord. It hasn't stopped her and her husband Garth from travelling and they've been able to cruise the Mediteranean, do safaris in Kenya and Tanzania, travel around the US, road trip through the North Island and go paragliding in the South.
Naturally, they've had to adapt the way they travel, but both of them wish booking travel was easier for people with disabilities.
"Just little things that for a normal person it doesn't seem a big deal but to a person with a disability, for independence, it makes it really tricky," she says.
Garth says it can be hard to find accommodation that has accessible rooms, and they often aren't made clear on booking websites. Usually they have to phone to secure a room, rather than the ease of quickly booking online like non-disabled travellers. Sometimes a room states it has wheelchair access, but that's as far as accessibility goes.
"It might have wide doorways and some ramps, but they'll have a shower over a tub or something like that which is clearly unsuitable," says Garth.
The couple recently tried to book a lakefront motel in Taupo, but the only room suitable for a wheelchair user was at the back of the complex, without any outlook.
"We don't mind paying for a decent room, but when there's only one room to choose from and it's always at the back block, we're almost regarded as second-class citizens because we're in a wheelchair or we've got a disability of some sort," says Chris.
Debbie Ward is a wheelchair user and works for CCS Disability Action as the National Disability Leadership Coordinator. She wants tourism and accommodation providers to know that disabled people have money to spend, but their input into the economy is often undervalued.
"If I could go away and have a holiday in New Zealand and know it would cater for all my access needs, then I would be more than willing to pay for that."
Debbie frequently travels solo for work, but runs into regular problems with so-called "accessible rooms".
"One of the biggest barriers that I've come up with is the accommodation. Motels, hotels, holiday parks and their definition of accessibility is quite different to what accessible might be, particularly for me in a wheelchair." She says she once tried to stay in a holiday park, but the accessible ablution block had a steep ramp, and her wheelchair couldn't fit into the shower cubicle.
Another challenge is the assumption she's with someone who can help her, rather than being seen as an independent traveller.
"Some of the accessible accommodation I've stayed in might have the nice wet floor area, but the services to plug the jug in to make a cup of tea are up high, or mirrors are placed up high, or pillows, and so you always need to ask the hotel staff to rearrange the room for you before you go in," she says.
"I'd like to do a bit more of New Zealand on my own, but there's not the same assurance that places will be accommodation and accessible."
Both Chris and Debbie say airlines tend to be reliable, but there's a lot of room for improvement on other transport providers such as inter-city or sightseeing coaches, trains and ferries.
"If they could think of accommodating people more with mobility impairments on those buses, that would go a huge way," says Debbie.