Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[travel] Wellington, NZ, day seven - (mostly) a day off

Yesterday was a low key day. Lisa Costello and I went visiting. [info]the_child went shopping and did craft projects with [info]danjite and [info]khaybee. We did do one tourist thing, which was return to Zealandia last night to see Sirocco the kākāpō, a rather large New Zealand flightless parrot whose species is currently the subject of a very last ditch recovery process.

Today we're doing Lord of the Rings stuff.

A few observations on traveling with disability in New Zealand.

Public toilets are frequently available, and with very rare exceptions almost always clean. This helps a lot, as even on a good day my GI forces me to stop six or eight times, sometimes for as long as half an hour per stop. On the negative side, this is a culture that generally doesn't believe in heating bathrooms. I guess you're supposed to do your business and get out. But when your business is twenty to thirty minutes of painful cramping (just to pick a not-so-random example), that's a long time to be sitting in a chilled environment.

There is no equivalent of the Americans with Disabilities Act here, and so no requirement for disabled accessibility. Nonetheless, everywhere we've gone has been reasonable for me. If I were chairbound, this would be a lot more difficult, but using a cane and being able to negotiate steps where necessary, has given me a lot of access. Wheelchairs or mobis are available in some places — that's how I got through Zealandia, which I could not possibly have managed on foot, cane or no cane — lifts are pretty much where they need to be, and people are very nice and helpful.

In fact, I've met exactly one jerk my entire stay so far. I was crossing a street in Picton, NZ a few days ago, moving slowly with my cane, when a driver in a brand new metallic red Range Rover came tearing out of a side street and quite deliberately accelerated toward me in an attempt to scare me out of his way. It was a seriously asshole move, and I was being threatened with bodily harm in the process. In the US, I would probably have stood my ground, photographed the license plate with my cell phone, and called the police. Here, I just kept moving at my already set pace, and gave the driver a cheery smile and wave. (Which is what I usually do to people who drive aggressively — it amuses me and any by-standers, and doesn't feed their self-valorizing anger like a flip of the bird would.)

More to come.

Tags: child, culture, friends, new zealand, radiantlisa, travel

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