Latest Updates

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

Download the guidelines


New Zealand is an increasingly diverse nation - a rich cultural mix of peoples from the Asia, the Pacific and elsewhere. More than half of our population will be Asian, Māori and Pasifika by 2038, yet it is these groups who are significantly less likely to participate in most forms of outdoor recreation.

Asian migrants enjoy day walks and want outdoor recreation activities with family and friends. Māori are more likely to go hunting or fishing in the outdoors than all other groups. NZ Pacific Islanders find cost is a barrier.

As Dr Michelle Schaaf said in Wilderness Magazine, "Going mountaineering by yourself may be seen by others as individualistic and selfish - what purpose does it serve?"

Our Insights include information about the participation patterns, motivations and barriers of diverse groups, and some easy to apply tactics to increase engagement of different ethnicities in outdoor recreation. Read the first in our Insights series, and to find out more including links to research, podcasts and webinars.

Read INSIGHTS: Outdoor recreation in a superdiverse NZ now


Recreation Aotearoa members can read and download issues of Kaitiaki, our newsletter for the Outdoors sector here

Latest News

For the latest news in NZ Outdoor Recreation, click here

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

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