The Health and Safety at Work (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2016 (the Regulations) deal with the provision of adventure activities.

Here are some useful documents to provide more information about how WorkSafe regulates adventure activities.

The Regulations

The Regulations set out what kinds of activities are covered by the Regulations, the process for registration as an adventure activity operator, duties of adventure activity operators, and offences.

There are activities that are excluded from the regulations. These include activities run by sports clubs (or associations representing sports clubs) and schools in most circumstances, and activities where participants are not taught or guided.

See What we mean by adventure activity for further guidance.

A core requirement of the Regulations is that anyone who wishes to provide adventure activities must pass a safety audit and be granted registration by WorkSafe. Safety audits are carried out by safety auditors formally recognised by WorkSafe under the Regulations.

To pass the safety audit, a person must satisfy the safety auditor that their safety management system complies with the Safety Audit Standard (see below).

If a person passes a safety audit, they are issued with a safety audit certificate. Certificates are usually issued for three years. This certificate is a key requirement for applying to WorkSafe for registration as an adventure activity operator.

In 2023, the Regulations were amended to:

  • introduce a duty under the Regulations for adventure activity operators to take all reasonable steps to inform persons seeking to participate in adventure activities of any serious risks they may be exposed to by participating in the activity
  • expand WorkSafe’s powers to refuse, suspend, and cancel registration; allow WorkSafe to add conditions to an adventure activity operator’s registration; and provide operators with review and appeal rights where these powers are exercised
  • establish a new registration process that requires adventure activity operators to register directly with WorkSafe (rather than indirectly via their safety auditor) and provide more detailed information upon registration
  • introduce sector-specific notifiable events which adventure activity operators are required to report to WorkSafe.

Note that the amendments to the Regulations came into force on 1 April 2024.

View the amendments to the Health and Safety at Work (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2016 on the New Zealand Legislation website(external link)

Quick guide: Changes to the Adventure Activities regime – what they mean for you (PDF 172 KB)

Safety Audit Standard

Under the Regulations, WorkSafe must develop one or more safety audit standards. A safety audit standard sets out the standards or requirements that adventure activity operators must comply with to reduce risks to health and safety when providing adventure activities.

Safety Audit Standard (version 2.0) - Safety management system requirements for adventure activity operators

On 31 August 2023, WorkSafe issued version 2.0 of the safety audit standard (the Standard). On 1 April 2024 this version of the Standard replaced version 1.1.

The updates in version 2.0 of the Standard include changes to introduce a specific requirement for operators to assess and manage risks associated with natural hazards, and requirements for what information about risks must be provided to participants and how this communication should occur.

The title of the Standard was changed to ‘Safety management system requirements for adventure activity operators’ to clarify that the primary audience for this document is both adventure activity operators and safety auditors.

The updates also include changes to ensure that the Standard is consistent with the amendments to the Regulations.

Safety Audit Standard (version 2.0) (PDF 390 KB)

The New Zealand Adventure Activities Certification Scheme

The New Zealand Adventure Activities Certification Scheme (the Scheme) is a WorkSafe document endorsed by the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JASANZ).

Visit the JASANZ website(external link)

The Scheme sets out WorkSafe’s expectations of certification bodies (recognised safety auditors).

Accreditation under the Scheme is the primary way certification bodies can demonstrate to WorkSafe that they are likely to meet the requirements to be recognised as safety auditors under the Regulations.

New Zealand Adventure Activities Certification Scheme (version 4.1)

On 31 August 2023 WorkSafe issued Version 4.1 of the Scheme (version 4.1). The updates in version 4.1 include changes to reflect the amendments to the Regulations, and changes to the qualification requirements for technical experts that audit diving activities.

Version 4.1 replaced the previous version 4.0 of the Scheme on 1 April 2024.

New Zealand Adventure Activities Certification Scheme (version 4.1) (PDF 1004 KB)

New Zealand Adventure Activity Certification Scheme - a performance study

This research examined the performance of the New Zealand Adventure Activity Certification Scheme (the Scheme) during its first three years in action. This is the period during which audit bodies were directly recognised by WorkSafe NZ, prior to accreditation by a specialist third party organisation.

The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which the current Scheme arrangements provide effective sector regulation for each of the ‘project deliverable’ topics described in the report. The research was conducted by reviewing audit reports, conducting interviews with sector managers at certified audit bodies and surveying adventure activity operators.

New Zealand Adventure Activity Certification Scheme - a performance study (PDF 1.4 MB)