Mountain bikers enjoying a trail


A nationwide review of conservation management strategies for biking is currently being planned. These reviews will provide opportunities for the public to have their say.

Why is this proposed?

We are proposing this change because we have heard peoples’ frustrations and we want to provide more agility in our statutory documents. We intend to provide support to decision makers in assessing proposed biking opportunities, without the need for further formal changes to conservation management strategies (CMS).


The process to be followed is yet to be confirmed.

It will comprise concurrent reviews of all 16 CMS. This means new provisions for considering biking on existing tracks and new tracks on public conservation land would be inserted into each CMS. They would include criteria for assessing proposals for new tracks or repurposing existing tracks..

Locations where biking wouldn’t be allowed would be identified in each CMS.

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. This means the national CMS review won’t consider biking in national parks.

Why CMS changes are needed

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

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 address the situation through these partial reviews.

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.

Bikes are treated as vehicles

Waka Kotahi’s definition of vehicles, in the Land Transport Act, includes bikes. This is the definition we have in the Conservation Act, which has been adapted for the Conservation General Policy.

Conservation General Policy contains policies about managing use of vehicles, such as bikes, and other forms of transport on public conservation land, including Policy 9.5(b) which states:

“Conservation management strategies and plans will identify where the use of specified types of vehicles and other forms of transport may be allowed and will establish any conditions of use.”

Up to now we have interpreted and implemented this policy by specifically identifying where vehicles such as bikes and e-bikes could be used.

This means we can only approve new biking opportunities if they are identified in the relevant CMS.

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 may mean they can’t be allowed until the CMS has been changed through this partial review process.

Our next steps

We are currently undertaking preparatory and planning work to ensure a legally robust review process is followed. This requires us to consult with consultation boards and tangata whenua before any reviews are initiated.

We held an initial discussion with conservation board chairs in early September 2022, and are now following this up with consultation with individual conservation boards.

Our generic board presentation is availble to view. This is being tailored for each board to reflect the regional context. 

Engagement with tangata whenua is also planned to ensure we meet the requirements of the Treaty settlements.

We will update this page with the process we intend to use and the necessary timeframe once determined.

Read more on project updates


If you have any questions email us.


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