Published 29 November 2022
Local man gets access to the beach for the first time in four years.
Whangamata Toes in the Water officially opened the summer season with a community celebration, giving Ollie Goulden his first visit to the beach in four years.
Ollie has always had a love for the beach, it reminds him of family, friends, and summer holidays but due to mobility issues visiting the beach was not a regular activity for him.
“The last time I was able to access the ocean was in 2017,” says Ollie. “Toes in the Water allowed me to go to the beach and spend time with family and friends.”
The volunteer-based organisation removes barriers for people who need help and gives Ollie and others the choice and control to experience more leisure activities.
In 2018 Whangamata was voted one of the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand, to be an inclusive and supportive community, locals decided to set up Toes in The Water, so that everyone has access to their beach.
The volunteer-based organisation fundraised enough money to buy beach wheelchairs and walkers.
“We want it to be Toes in the Water for everyone,” says treasurer Donna Lowrie, “It is available for anyone, and all we ask in return is a koha, although there are no expectations.”
Toes in the Water offer a Sandcruiser, (an adult beach wheelchair) a Sandpiper, (a child-size beach wheelchair) and two WheelEEZ Rollators.
To book equipment, people must register to become a user, allowing them their choice of wheels. Once the suitable equipment has been chosen, they choose a date and time to use the equipment. From here the Toes in the Water team will prepare the equipment and upon the users’ arrival, they will hold a safety talk to ensure everybody has an enjoyable experience while visiting Whangamata beach.
Once users have completed their session, they return the equipment to the Toes in the Water team, who will clean and prepare the equipment for others.
Toes In the Water's success hinges on a team of volunteers, fundraising, and community engagement. Volunteers get to see first-hand the joy people get from the equipment.
“I hope that enough funding and resources become available so that more people can enjoy the beautiful beach in Whangamata,” says Ollie.