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Do I need to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle in New Zealand?

The short answer is yes, everyone who's old enough to ride a bike in New Zealand, and is riding it in a public setting, is required to wear a helmet by law. The helmet has to be up to the official standard and feature fastening mechanisms in order to prevent serious head injury to the wearer in the case of an accident. This statute has been in place since 1994 with anyone disregarding the law given an infringement notice and a fine of AUD$50. If you were to challenge the fine and lose, you could be fined a further AUD$855. 

However, some exemptions are granted on the grounds of religious beliefs (where the bike rider is already wearing a cultural/religious headdress) or a disability that affects the bike rider's ability to wear a helmet safely.

What are the bike laws in New Zealand?

The road rules for riding a bicycle are similar to that of driving a motor vehicle with a clear focus on reducing road danger to cyclists, drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, as well as ensuring there's consistent and courteous behaviour between everyone who shares the road. When riding a bicycle in New Zealand you have to make sure you're doing the following: 

  • Riding responsibly 

  • Adhering to regular road rules e.g/stopping at stop signs, at crosswalks, and at red lights

  • Signalling where appropriate 

  • Passing vehicles when it is safe to do so

  • Position yourself correctly on the road. 

As well as wearing a standard helmet, riders must also ensure they're riding a bike with brakes that work and have appropriate lighting/reflectors on the bike if they plan on riding a bike at nighttime. Where possible, riders must also try to avoid riding on the footpath, opting for specific bike lanes or the roads instead. 

Still want to learn about cycling in New Zealand? Read more New Zealand cycling FAQs

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