New Zealand’s first rental motorhome built for wheelchair users is set to hit the road.
Catriona Williams has been a wheelchair user for more than two decades. For the last few years, she’s been wanting to go on an adventure across New Zealand.
“I was chatting to Sam, my husband, and I said, ‘Why don’t we do a roadie? We’ve got lots of friends all over the country],” she said.
“We went online and realised we couldn’t hire an accessible motorhome.”
So she made it her mission to get one built.
To Williams, accessible means being able to get in – and out – herself, and drive or ride up the front.
She said surfaces also need to be at the correct height.
“We don’t want to just come and exist – we want to come and be part of the holiday.”
Williams used her love of cooking to help raise more than $400,000 through donations from Greenstone Partners, Sitipek, the Hugo Charitable Trust, and another anonymous donor, so ACM Motorhomes could design and build the perfect vehicle.
“It was full custom from the chassis up,” designer and builder Chris Cunard said. “Every single piece of it was handmade.”
It’ll cost up to $425 a day to rent from Milner Mobility, which specialises in wheelchair accessible vehicles.
“We always get enquiries around a rental motorhome,” general manager Darren Milner said. “Since we’ve presented this on our website, the enquiries have just been huge both internationally and locally.”
Around 60% of the rental fee will go towards Catwalk, a spinal cord research trust founded by Williams, and the New Zealand Spinal Trust.
Spinal Trust CEO Hans Wouters said it’s the first “fully accessible motorhome that can be rented” in the country.
“For a family to take their loved one out who may have a spinal cord impairment and use a wheelchair and ordinarily would not have that opportunity, that’s absolutely massive,” he said.
Williams already has her first stop in mind.
“For me, I really want to go to the South Island – got lots of lovely friends down there. Nelson, Marlborough, Motueka – that’s where I want to go,” she said.
She’ll be one of the first to rent the motorhome when it’s ready for hire.