Mountain bikers enjoying a trail


We are working on a new way to manage biking on public conservation lands and waters.

Why changes are needed

Currently, we need to review or amend a Conservation Management Strategy (CMS) to allow new biking access if it isn’t specifically identified – at the moment, this is not a simple process.

Conservation management strategies are statutory documents that specify how natural and cultural heritage resources, recreation and other activities will be managed in a region.

They must be consistent with Conservation General Policy, which provides national guidance for management of public conservation land and waters. Up to now we have interpreted and implemented Conservation General Policy by specifically identifying in CMS where vehicles could be used, including bikes and e-bikes.

We receive numerous requests for proposed new bike tracks or to allow biking on existing tracks and we recognise the frustration with our current approach. Therefore, we're taking steps to improve the approach.

What are we doing

We are looking at a range of options to address this issue. We are reviewing DOC’s responsibilities under legislation and the Conservation General Policy when managing biking on public conservation lands and waters.

National parks are not included in this review

National parks make up around one-third of all public conservation land. They are managed under specific legislation and general policy – the National Parks Act 1980 and General Policy for National Parks 2005. The new approach won’t consider biking in national parks. This would be considered when each national park management plan is reviewed, with full public input.

What happens with bike track proposals in the meantime

Any proposed bike tracks will need to be assessed against existing provisions in the relevant CMS. This might mean they can’t be allowed until a new approach is in place.

Conservation Board engagement

After an initial discussion with conservation board chairs in early September 2022, we consulted with individual conservation boards.

Our generic presentation is available to view. This was tailored for each conservation board to reflect the regional context.

We will be sharing the criteria for bike-free (previously known as no-go) areas as well as the criteria for the assessment for new bike tracks with conservation boards so that they can provide feedback.

External stakeholder workshops

We have set up workshops for people with an interest in how biking is managed on public conservation lands and waters. Please let us know if you would like to attend future workshops.

The first workshop was held on 17 August and covered the context and purpose of the project. The second workshop was held on 7 September and covered Bike-free areas.

You can find the presentations along with some key discussion topics here:

We want to ensure that we consider and respond to the feedback we received in these workshops. To be able to do this, we are postponing workshops 3 and 4. These were planned for Thursday 5 and 26 October 2023. Several matters raised need further thought, and this allows us to give these matters the appropriate level of consideration.

We will contact participants with new dates as soon as they are available.

Our next steps

We are continuing to assess management options including those suggested by stakeholders and conservation boards.

We will be briefing the Minister of Conservation in the coming weeks to seek direction on how to progress this work further.

Following this, we will re-engage with stakeholders to identify the most workable options.

Read more on project updates


If you have any questions email us.


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