100% accessible BNB: A New Zealand first?

Poripori Homestead with a rainbow overhead in the background As if it wasn't difficult enough for holiday makers to find accessible accommodation while traveling, finding a suitable and cozy Bed and Breakfast is even more so. This is the exact gap a Tauranga couple is filling with their plans to build an accessible BnB in the beautiful Bay of Plenty.

Frances Bay and her husband Julian are currently in the process of renovating their 13 bedroom home, Poripori Homestead to make it accessible for visitors to the region. Frances, who is trained as a nurse, currently works in assessment and rehabilitation for people following serious injury, specialising in spinal cord injury. Through her work, she has come to realise how difficult it is for anyone in a wheelchair to be able to travel and find suitable accessible accommodation.

From there sprung the idea of a holiday space where anyone with any needs is welcome, without being concerned about the accessibility of the rooms and facilities.

The house is located on a small lifestyle block in the lower Kaimai ranges close to Tauranga, with some farm animals also living on the property. There is one entrance for all guests, whether walking, in a wheelchair, pushing a pram, or rolling a heavy suitcase on wheels. All of the rooms will be equally accessible, while maintaining individual character in keeping with the villa style of the home.

One of the suites will have two rooms, suitable for a small family, or individual with their caregiver. Accessible features are cleverly incorporated into the building design and surrounding landscaping. Frances calls this idea "invisibly accessible". There are also plans to modify the original homestead, a three bedroom villa, to have one accessible bedroom with an ensuite, and separate family bathroom, perfect for families wanting to stay together where one person has an access need.

While the house is not fully renovated to be an accessible BnB just yet, it has been functional as self-contained holiday accommodation since 2012, with Frances and Julian as on-site hosts.

The property also has a functional small meeting and venue space which will be made accessible. The space has already hosted a variety of events such as corporate team meetings, special interest group meet-ups, craft groups and house concerts, and is available to hire for similar events.

The journey towards making the vision of a unique and universally accessible boutique style holiday destination has been many years in the making, and Frances hopes it will be completely ready by Labour weekend 2018, just in time for tourists to enjoy summer in the beautiful Bay of Plenty.