Trail Safety

The New Zealand Cycle Trail includes both on and off-road cycle trails, each of which presents different safety considerations. Below is some general information to help keep you safe in the outdoors in any environment, and more specific information relating to safety cycling on the road.

Safety in the Outdoors

Outdoor Safety Code

The New Zealand Cycle Trail has adopted the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council’s Outdoor Safety Code, which can be applied across all types of outdoor activities, sports and recreation.

The five safety points below have been created through expert consultation and are the core to all outdoor safety practices. The group backing the Outdoor Safety Code includes: Department of Conservation, New Zealand Search and Rescue Council, Mountain Safety Council, Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR), New Zealand Police, Tourism New Zealand, Accident Compensation Corporation, Tourism Industry Association, Sport New Zealand, Walking Access Commission and the New Zealand Cycle Trail.

All of the safety points can be expanded upon depending on the type of cycling you’re planning to do and the associated level of risk – so use them as a starting point and make sure you know all you can about the trail before you head off.

1. Plan your trip

Seek local knowledge and plan the route you will take and the amount of time you can reasonably expect it to take.

» Read more about how to plan your trip

2. Tell Someone Your Plans

Tell someone your plans

Tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned.

The New Zealand Cycle Trail recommends that you don’t ride alone, especially if you’re heading into remote areas.

The New Zealand Outdoors Intentions Process (endorsed by New Zealand’s search and rescue agencies) provides 3 simple options which enable you to ‘tell someone’ all the details about your ride into the outdoors.

3. Be aware of the weather

New Zealand’s weather can be highly unpredictable. Always check the forecast before you head off and be prepared for weather changes.

» Read more about how to be aware of the weather

4. Know your limits

Your responsibility is to enjoy and maximise your riding experience, while reducing and minimising the risk. Challenge yourself, but ride within your physical limits and ability.

» Read more about how to know your limits

5. Take sufficient supplies

Make sure you have enough food, clothing, equipment and emergency rations for the worst-case scenario. Take some basic bike tools for any repairs and an appropriate means of communication.

» Read more about how to plan your trip

Safety on the Road

Following are a few simple tips to help keep you stay safe when you’re out on the road.

Be Seen – Wear high visibility or brightly coloured clothing. Use front and rear lights at night, in low light and in poor visibility such as fog or rain.

Be Aware – Watch and listen for approaching vehicles, pedestrians, potholes, animals, car doors opening and other potential hazards.

Be Predictable – Make eye contact with other road users. Maintain a straight line, keep to the left and signal your intentions clearly.

Be Confident – Know how to safely approach railway crossings, roundabouts and intersections etc. Use hand signals to indicate your intentions and a bell to alert other road users to your presence.

Be Safe – Ride to the conditions and follow the road rules. Cycle no more than two abreast and ride single file where visibility is an issue or traffic is busy. Keep at least one metre away from parked cars and use cycle lanes.

Be Patient – Slow down near parked or lined up vehicles. Pass slowly and only when safe. On narrow windy roads, pull over where practical to allow vehicles to pass.

Be Prepared – Wear an approved helmet and check your bike regularly. Plan your route and carry sufficient water and food, along with basic tools for any repairs.

The AdventureSmart website
aims to provide both visitors and New Zealanders with a centralised online location for safety information and planning support, prior to engaging in outdoors activities in New Zealand. It provides lots of useful tips, links and advice to help you plan and prepare – to ensure you enjoy your adventure safely.
NZ Code for Cyclists
If you’re cycling on the road, you must know New Zealand’s road rules. The Official New Zealand Code for Cyclists, developed by the New Zealand Transport Agency, is a user-friendly guide to New Zealand’s traffic law and safe driving practices.
Bike Wise
Bike Wise
is a national cycling programme of activities, promoting cycling as a fun, healthy and safe way to travel in New Zealand. Bikewise month, held in February each year, encompasses a wide range of activities and events across the country. You’ll also find lots of information about cycling in general and how to keep safe on New Zealand roads.