Segway Tours to be exempted from ‘Adventure Activities’ regulations

Tourism is one of New Zealand’s largest export industries, second only to the dairy industry in terms of foreign exchange earnings. It directly employs 6.2 per cent of the New Zealand workforce and indirectly employs a further 3.4 per cent.

In total, around one in 10 working New Zealanders is employed in the tourism industry. Segway Tours and Segway Fun Ride businesses are part of this sector, and are an excellent example of early adoption by New Zealand entrepreneurs and businesses of the opportunities made possible by new technology.

For example Kevin Hey started his Queenstown business Segway On Q in  in 2006. This was the first daily Segway Tour business in the Southern Hemisphere, and today Kevin operates two fleets of Segway Personal Transporters (PTs) in this most beautiful of locations.

Queenstown is New Zealand’s top tourist destination, offering fun-in-the-sun over summer and exhilaration on the ski slopes during winter. It is also the hometown of New Zealand’s world-famous Adventure Tourism industry. International and local travellers flock to Queenstown for high-adrenalin thrills like bungie jumping and river canyon jet boating (incidentally, both of these technologies were invented in New Zealand – by AJ Hacket and Hamilton Jet, respectively). Other popular pursuits include white water and black water rafting, mountain biking, quad bike tours, giant swings out into nowhere, tree-top zip lines, sky diving, canyoning, and dirt biking.

One thing all of these activities have in common is they fall under the new Adventure Activities Regulations. These businesses offer an activity that is ‘”designed to deliberately expose the participant to a risk of serious harm” where participants are “being guided, taught how, or assisted to participate in the activity.”

For the last couple of years Segway Tour operators in New Zealand have been unsure as to whether or not their activities would be captured by the Adventure Activity criteria. If so, they would need to register with the Ministry of Businesses, Innovation and Employment, and meet strict new safety requirements intended to better manage the risks inherent in adventurous activities.

Several New Zealand Segway Tour businesses submitted information about their operations to the Ministry for assessment, and last week received a response that Segway Tours do not meet the level of risk that the Ministry has determined constitutes an “Adventure Activities.”

Segway New Zealand is pleased with the Ministry’s determination, because Segway Tours are intended to be a safe, pleasant way to see more of a memorable location in less time.

Segway Tours are one of those rare outdoor activities that is suitable for just about everyone – young or old, fully active or mobility impaired. Segway Tours sure are lots of fun, which is where we get phrase the Segway Smile from. They do not set out to be “an adrenalin junkie fix” more typical of the thrills associated with Adventure Activities. Segway New Zealand has successful encouraged all current tour operators to adhere to the Segway Authorized Tour code of best practice. Participants are properly trained before setting out, helmets are used, and the routes are carefully planned for ease of travel and to be non-distruptive to other people sharing the same space. Segway PTs have safety features build-in, such as (anti-skid) traction control, electronic speed limiting and automatic prevention from free-wheeling down a hill.


Here is the Ministry’s response to Segway On Q:

Adventure activities – not required to register

Thank you for notifying the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment about your adventure/outdoor operation for registration under the Health and Safety in Employment (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2011.  

Whether an activity is subject to the Regulations is determined by the criteria set out as follows:

An adventure activity is an activity:

  • that is provided to a participant in return for payment
  • that is land-based or water-based
  • that involves the participant being guided, taught how, or assisted to participate in the activity
  • the main purpose of which is the recreational or educational experience of the participant
  • that is designed to deliberately expose the participant to a risk of serious harm that must be managed by the provider of the activity

and in which:

  • failure of the provider’s management systems (such as failure of operational procedures or failure to provide reliable equipment) is likely to result in serious harm to the participant; or
  • the participant is deliberately exposed to dangerous terrain or dangerous waters.

Guidance on how to interpret and apply these criteria is provided in the Ministry publication “Guidance for Operators”. 

The information provided by you appears to indicate that your operation does not meet the criteria.  If that is correct, you do not need to be registered with the Ministry. 

Although your operation may not be subject to the Regulations, you continue to have responsibilities under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.  The Act applies to all New Zealand workplaces and places duties on employers, employees, self-employed persons, principals and others who are in a position to manage or control hazards.  The Ministry also strongly supports the practice of all operators in the adventure and outdoor sector undertaking regular safety audits. 

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