Thrills for all

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A gutsy Dunedin man is putting Queenstown’s worldwide reputation for adventure on a different kind of map. 

John Marrable has written a guide to extreme tourism for people with disabilities after test-driving five activities in the resort. 

Marrable, a paraplegic for 43 years, offers advice and recommendations in his yet-to-be-published Accessible Adventure Activities booklet following his experiences with AJ Hackett Bungy, Skyline Gondola and Luge, Shotover Jet, Shotover Canyon Swing and Dart River Safaris. 

The wheelchair-bound information consultant for the Disability Information Service says his experience is about creating awareness. 

“Often society puts barriers up, stopping disabled from experiencing various activities – but often these barriers are perceptions [of others] on what the disabled cannot do.” 

But the guide – which will eventually be available from the Queenstown disAbilities Resource Centre – also provides users with realistic requirements before they take the plunge. 

For example, if you want to ride Shotover Jet you must have good arm strength because of the centrifugal force from 360deg spins, he says. 

Marrable also highlights wheelchair access and what’s available on site for people with disabilities. 

“When booking with each company, advise them of your disability and any assistance required,” he adds. 

He’s impressed by the helpfulness of crew on his thrill-trips: “At each activity, staff were very helpful and keen to be involved.” 

At the AJ Hackett Bungy weigh-in, crew put the scales on a large wooden box and he was able to transfer himself from his wheelchair on to the scales, he says. 

Importantly, bungy staff also asked Marrable – rather than those with him – what they could do to help. 

Nevertheless, he’s come up with several helpful tips for the various tourism operators to make their adventures more disabled-friendly – such as having a piece of non-slip matting to stop people from sliding around on Skyline’s luge and the Shotover and Dart River jetboats. 

His guide also lists equipment available for purchase or hire via the disAbilities Resource Centre, like off-road wheels for wheelchairs and non-slip matting.