Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking Rules in New Zealand

Mountain biking rules in New Zealand

Know the mountain biking rules in New Zealand so you stay safe and have an epic time!

New Zealand’s mountain biking trails range from easy to epic, with special sights and scenery that take riding adventures to a whole new level. Knowing the Mountain Biking Rules in New Zealand means better fun and safety for you on your holiday!

The following MTB code was developed by the New Zealand MTB Association (NZ MBA) in liaison with key stakeholders and DOC. It’s aim is help everyone enjoy the incredible mountain biking opportunities that exist in New Zealand.  It’s a simple set of mountain biking rules in New Zealand that everyone should be able to keep-to, easily.

The Mountain Biking Rules in New Zealand

Always wear a helmet

It’s the law in New Zealand a helmet is required while riding a bike.  But a helmet also protects you and your brain in case of a collision.  It’s nice being alive right?

Respect others

Stay in control. So you can safely avoid others and keep yourself intact. We all love to go fast, but consider who/what might round the corner and be sure you could stop in time.

Give way to walkers

Use a bell or greeting when approaching others. Most negative feedback from walkers on shared-use tracks concerns being surprised by bikers approaching without warning. If you’re heading round a blind bend then simply give a quick blast to let people know you’re there.

Ride shared-use tracks in small groups. 

A ‘bike-train’ with a dozen riders displaces other users. 6-8, or less, is a better number and possibly less impactful on the environment too.

Respect the rules

Only ride MTB and shared-use tracks; stay off closed tracks – including those that are seasonally closed to protect the surface or minimise conflict with other users. Land managers are generally pretty reasonable so talk with them about issues or ideas you may have. If you’re in any doubt, then ask a local, contact the Department of Conservation ( or your local bike shop.

Be prepared

Take food, water, tools, First Aid and warm clothes. Plan for the unexpected such as a change in the weather, an accident or getting lost and late. Conditions in New Zealand can change quickly, that’s why we’re known as having 4 seasons in one day. Be sure to have the right gear with you. If you’re worried, then head to and use the chat function to ask any questions you might have.

Be sure to get a weather forecast for the area you are biking. Head over to to get a good local, New Zealand based forecast.

Obtain permission from private landowners before you set out.

Leave gates as you find them either open or closed to keep stock where they are intended to be.

Respect the track.

Don’t skid, cut corners or make new lines. Skidding creates water channels and causes erosion. Use both brakes to slow down without skidding as you approach a corner. Cutting corners is cheating and damages fragile ecosystems. If there is one thing we get serious about in New Zealand, it’s protecting our eco-system. Why? Because it’s one of the youngest in the world and it’s really rather fragile.

Avoid riding in the mud and rain. 

Both bikes and walkers damage soft, wet tracks.

Clean your bike to prevent spreading weeds like gorse and didymo. this might seem petty, but it comes back to protecting our eco-system, as these plants can wreak havoc.

Take rubbish home.

Rubbish in the outdoors, like banana skins, old tubes and snack wrappers, detracts from everyone’s experience.

Respect public access easements.

Some mountain bike rides travel along public access easements through private land. All easements and tracks are well marked. Please do the following to ensure others can enjoy the same privileges:

Stay on the public easement track.

Leave gates as you find them.

Do not disturb stock – cycle slowly through livestock areas.


On the road

You won’t always be off-road so when you find yourself using the roads in New Zealand, please take care and follow these guides:

  • Follow the road rules – stop for red lights and at pedestrian crossings.
  • Ride predictably, in a straight line and signal your intentions clearly in advance.
  • Ride no more than two abreast and only where safe and appropriate.
  • Try not to slow the flow of traffic – where practical pull over to let vehicles pass.
  • Courtesy works – a wave and a smile to other road users will help foster a more positive attitude to cyclists.

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