Sunday, November 27, 2005


Plans for a walkway high in the forest of Westland National Park have stalled over a requirement to provide access for wheelchair users. South Island tribe Ngai Tahu is behind the $2 million treetop venture, a more than 300m-long looped walk, 14m high and against a backdrop of the Southern Alps' Franz Josef village.

Ngai Tahu Tourism acting general manager Rick Tau said providing electric or mechanical lifts to get disabled people up and over sets of steps built into the walkway would add more than $100,000 to the cost of the project. "It could put the kibosh it," he said.

More than $50,000 had already been spent on design and planning. Electric lifts would require a power supply, and self-operated mechanical lifts could be a problem if people were severely disabled, Mr Tau said. The tribe had asked the Department of Building and Housing for an exemption under the Building Act, but was turned down.

It's not the first time Ngai Tahu's tourism ventures had come up against disability laws, Mr Tau said. "Some of it is idiotic. We have lodges that take two days' walking to get to, yet we have to provide wheelchair access to toilets."

More here (Hat tip to Kiwi Pundit)

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