Outdoor Recreation Guidelines

NZ Mountain Bike Trail Design & Construction Guidelines

Mountain Biking has quickly become a mainstream sport, with a broad range of bike trails being developed all around New Zealand.

Projects are now being driven by landmanagers such as DOC, Iwi, local and regional councils and also private landowners, adding a more structured and professional approach to complement the well established volunteer based, club driven structure.

Often the project manager or engineer managing the project has no background in the sport, and the volunteer driver maybe light on the steps needed to produce a fit for purpose product.

This new guideline is intended to help all parties develop and clarify their understanding of the creative elements that go in to delivering a fun trail experience at each of the six different grades of difficulty.

This guideline gives a detailed and defined specification for new trails at each grade, and also provides a template for the maintenance and auditing of existing trails. Any organisation involved with developing, building, maintaining or auditing a trail is encouraged to use these guidelines - with the overriding goal for NZ being a level of consistency and continuity around trail grading to ensure a fantastic user experience.

View the guidelines

Good Practice Guides

Outdoor Projects manager Rob MacLean along with Fiona McDonald from EONZ and consultants David Mangnall and Mark Smith have been working on developing Good Practice Guides for activities that don't meet the threshold for the Adventure Activity Safety Regulations (and therefore don't have Adventure Safety Guidelines). These guidelines are designed as an update to the Sport NZ Safety Guidelines for Outdoor Activities or 'Red Book' developed by Stu Allen.

We have been extremely fortunate to received funding from Recreation Aotearoa, EONZ, the Tourism Industry Trust of NZ and Scouts to develop these guidelines. Over the next 12 months we hope to develop guidelines for the following activities with more to follow next year:
  • Overnight Camping
  • Floating (flat/slow water rafting, paddling, canoeing etc)
  • River activities (swimming, rope swings, diving etc)
  • Low ropes/confidence courses (<3m)
  • Adventure Based Learning including night games and wide games
  • Land Travel (tramping, daywalking, orienteering/rogaining/adventure racing)
  • Trail biking (particularly MTB)
So far we have developed a template and draft guidelines for overnight camping, floating and river activities. We hope to circulate these to interested parties for comment over the next few weeks. If you are interested in being consulted on these guidelines please email outdoors@nzrecreation.org.nz

Adventure Activities Regulations

The Adventure Activities Regulations came into effect on 10 October 2010, and require all adventure activity operators to be registered (unless exempt).

A public list of registered adventure activity operators is available on the WorkSafe website. In order to be registered, operators must pass a safety audit from an authorised auditor.


The SupportAdventure website was initiated by the Tourism Industry Association (TIA) and Outdoors NZ to support outdoor recreation through providing resources, useful information, and industry-driven content.

We provide assistance to this website, which features activity safety guidelines, best practice information, safety management systems, helpful resources and information on the Adventure Activities Regulations.

Worksafe Guide To Writing Health And Safety Documents

Worksafe have published a guide to writing health and safety documents for your workplace.

This guide details good practices for how to write health and safety documentation, and is full of useful information and links.

Worksafe Guide to Writing Health and Safety Documents


Education Outdoors New Zealand

Education Outdoors New Zealand (EONZ) supports education outdoors and outside the classroom through provision of support, professional development, training, and resources for teachers that are linked to the guidelines for Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC).

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace is a movement that aims to minimise the impact of outdoor recreation on the environment. The site contains useful resources including lesson plans. They also have a handy booklet explaining their principles.

Mountain Safety Council

The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council (NZMSC) has a variety of useful resources explaining techniques and strategies for keeping safe in the outdoors. While targeted at the general recreationist, there is useful material on this site for outdoor recreation providers as well.

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi includes education outside the classroom (EOTC) resources and guidelines for teachers, principals, parents, family and outdoor recreation providers.

Adventure Activities Regulations Auditors

Safety audits are required to meet the requirements of the Adventure Activities Regulations. The following organisations are recognised by Worksafe NZ as Adventure Activities Regulations audit providers:

Bureau Veritas

Bureau Veritas are an international audit agency recognised as a Safety Auditor against the audit standard for Adventure Activities in New Zealand. Visit the Bureau Veritas website for more information.


Run by Skills Active, OutdoorsMark is the national outdoor safety audit programme designed by the New Zealand outdoors community for the New Zealand outdoors community. See the Skills Active website for more information.

Quality Solutions International (QSI)

100% New Zealand Owned & Operated, QSI supports clients operating in hazardous environments or elevated-risk industries. Visit the QSI webpage for more information.


SGS is an international inspection , verification, testing and certification company. Visit the SGS website for more information.


Telarc is a Worksafe NZ approved auditor and certifier for the outdoor adventure industry in New Zealand. Visit the Telarc website for more information.

National Incident Database

The Mountain Safety Council's National Incident Database aims to record, analyse and share outdoor incidents in New Zealand, providing an easy-to-use incident reporting format for all outdoor organisations.

The aim of the database is to share trends and key findings from outdoor incidents in New Zealand in report form.

For more information, visit the National Incident Database webpage.

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