A guest’s story: Accessibility and inclusivity at Wanaka Top 10

At Wanaka Top 10 Holiday Park, we really strive to make our accommodation as inclusive and accessible as possible.

That’s why we were delighted to receive this wonderful feedback from our lovely customer, Andrew, who has kindly shared his inspiring story and told us why, out of all the options available, he and his wife Larisa would rather stay at our Wanaka accommodation than anywhere else. Thanks, Andrew and Larisa - we look forward to welcoming you back soon!


Two people out in town enjoying ice cream at Black Peak in Wanaka.


In October 2000, as a newbie to the world of paraplegia, I saw a poster on the wall of my gym showing a paraplegic in a piece of equipment called a sit ski. He looked to be skiing at speed like it was second nature. I then set a little goal in my head that soon I was going to get to go skiing again.


I had my first go in September 2001, followed by a 10-day trip with a group of spinal injured people. I quickly realised that this was going to be a very big goal that would come with a lot of challenges; the biggest one was financial. Sit skis were around $10,000 at the time, without taking into account the cost of actually going somewhere to use it. So I put it on the backburner and I set about changing my financial situation.


In 2012, Ian, another paraplegic I met, invited me to join him in Wanaka to ski at Cardrona which is one of the best places for adaptive skiing in New Zealand. We both bought new sit skis in 2013 and we went to Wanaka together for six weeks a year for several years. Sharing the costs made it more affordable for both of us. I am now independent on the ski field and skiing is something I enjoy like nothing else.


In 2017 I met my wife, Larisa. Larisa is blind and, like me, she likes to challenge herself. I suggested she have a go at skiing and she was keen. With the help of the amazing adaptive instructors and volunteers at Cardrona she is now skiing the McDougal’s chairlift with confidence.


Wheelchair accessible accommodation is always tough to find, and we have the added challenge of caring for guide dog, Helen, everywhere we go. We love Unit 2 at Wanaka Top 10. It has a really good bathroom for me (Justin even asked for our advice when he renovated it) and a ranch slider onto the lawn which we can safely let Helen through when nature calls during the night - just like we do at home. This aspect is often quite challenging for Larisa and I to deal with when staying in motels and it is imperative that we keep Helen safe!


There are some days that we are not able to ski. I have a powered attachment for my wheelchair so we usually walk to town, taking a lovely route along the lakefront. Sometimes I go skiing by myself and Larisa and Helen are still able to go for a walk and enjoy beautiful Wanaka.


Justin, Andrea and their team are all so friendly and keen to do whatever they can to meet our needs. This is another part of the equation that makes Wanaka Top 10 our home away from home. My goal to get back skiing has led to financial freedom for Larisa and I and we plan to spend a large part of winter in Wanaka for as long as we can. For me the views are spectacular and Larisa loves the sounds - which are as different to home as the views are for me.


Andrew and Larisa Fleming


For more info on adaptive snow sports, visit https://www.snowsports.co.nz/

To find out about discounts available for adaptive snow sports, visit https://www.cardrona.com/winter/learn/adaptive-snow-sports/


More on accessibility at Wanaka Top 10 holiday park.


Two people skiing in Cardrona, Wanaka.

Posted by Andrea Kendrick on March 29, 2021