This information is for businesses that offer mountain-biking activities and may need to register as an adventure activity operator under the Health and Safety at Work (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2016.

It replaces previous guidance1 for adventure activity operators, which is now out-of-date, and specifies when WorkSafe expects mountain-biking businesses to register as an adventure activity operator.

The information is also aimed at safety auditors, cycling technical experts, and others with an interest in mountain-biking operations.

WorkSafe expects businesses that offer mountain-biking activities to manage the associated risks. The key serious risks include (but are not limited to) falls from heights or at speed that cause injuries to the brain, spine or internal organs, other serious injuries requiring hospital admission, or death.

The Regulations

The Health and Safety at Work (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2016(external link) (the Regulations) were introduced to: 

  • protect the health and safety of staff and participants involved in adventure activities
  • ensure adventure activity operators have sound safety management systems in place, and
  • protect New Zealand’s reputation as a world-leading provider of adventure activities.

Who the Regulations apply to

The Regulations apply to businesses providing an activity that meets the criteria set out in Regulation 4(external link). This describes what an 'adventure activity' is and what it is not.

Based on this section, WorkSafe's view is that a business must be registered with us as an adventure activity operator if their mountain-biking activity:

  • is undertaken in return for payment
  • involves guiding, teaching or assisting participants
  • has a main purpose of recreational or educational experience for participants
  • requires the operator to actively manage a serious risk to participants’ health and safety.

For information on the application of the Regulations, go to What we mean by adventure activity

Registration by WorkSafe

The Regulations require a business whose operation meets all the criteria listed above to pass a safety audit and become registered by WorkSafe as an adventure activity operator.

For information on the current process to become registered, see Apply for an adventre activity operator registration

Adventure activity operators must eliminate or minimise risks to participants

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) places a duty on businesses to eliminate or minimise risks arising from their work.

WorkSafe's Safety Audit Standard specifies the requirements that operators must comply with to manage serious risks for participants.

Safety audit standard for adventure activities

WorkSafe expects adventure activity operators to identify hazards, and then assess and manage the risks that participants are exposed to during mountain-biking.

These include (but are not limited to):

  • dangerous terrain (for example: steep gradients, rough ground, solid obstacles)
  • poor maintenance of equipment/components (e.g. brakes or frame) causing failure & injury
  • guide/instructor/leader incompetence
  • weather (such as cold temperatures causing hypothermia)
  • inadequate/variable traction
  • inadequate emergency preparedness and response plans.

The following fact sheet provides brief guidance on how to manage health and safety risks:

How to manage work risks (PDF 55 KB)


1 - Health and Safety in Employment (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2011: Guidance for operators