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Mopeds: Road rules and equipment (Factsheet 43)

Published: 06 2011

This factsheet explains the rules and equipment of mopeds. If you ride a moped, then for your own safety and the safety of other road users, you must follow the road rules for moped riders, and you must have the right equipment.

Mopeds: Road rules and equipment

Mopeds share the roads with other motor vehicles. If you ride a moped, then for your own safety and the safety of other road users, you must follow the road rules for moped riders, and you must have the right equipment.

What rules must I follow?

  • You must have a driver licence. This can be any class of New Zealand licence. If you don't hold a New Zealand licence, you may be able to use an overseas licence. Refer to Factsheet 56, New residents and visitors – driving in New Zealand for more information.
  • You must ride on the road – you can't ride on the footpath or a cycle path unless you have permission from the road-controlling authority to ride on the footpath to deliver mail, newspapers or other printed matter to letterboxes. Keep as far left as you can. You may use bus lanes, as long as there isn't a sign forbidding this.
  • You must not use your hand-held mobile phone while riding your moped.
  • Your moped must have the right equipment.
  • You must have your headlamps on whenever you are driving your moped. This includes daytime as well as night-time. If fitted, daytime running lamps can be used during the day instead of headlamps. (This requirement applies only to mopeds manufactured after 1 January 1980).
  • If you're riding with other mopeds, don't ride more than two abreast. Ride in single file when you're passing other vehicles, including parked vehicles.
  • If you don't have direction indicators or stop lamps, use a clear arm signal when you intend to turn and reduce your speed or stop before making the turn.
  • At intersections, you must follow the road rules for motor vehicles, or get off your moped and walk across.
  • You can only carry a passenger if your moped has a pillion seat and footrests for the passenger. A container or seat for an infant must protect their legs from the wheels.
  • You can tow a trailer with your moped, but you can't tow any other sort of vehicle. Your moped can't be towed by another vehicle.
  • If you carry a load it must be secure and must not touch the ground. It must not extend more than one metre in front of or behind the wheels, or half a metre (50cm) on either side (from the centre of the moped).

What are the rules for wearing helmets?

It is compulsory for all moped riders on New Zealand roads to wear motorcycle helmets. Your helmet must:

Check that your helmet is the right size – it should fit snugly on your head with minimum use of pads. If your helmet gets damaged, replace it with a new one.

Please note that if a police officer stops you and asks to inspect your helmet, you must give it to them.

Courtesy on the road

Be considerate of other road users. Where the road is narrow, check that you are not slowing down the traffic flow and let the traffic pass as soon as it's safe.

Registration and licensing

You must register and license your moped for use on the road – but check first that it is really a 'moped' and not a motorcycle (see below). The registration plate must be clearly displayed and securely attached at the rear of the moped.

Is it a moped or a motorcycle?

A moped has:

  • two wheels
  • a maximum speed not exceeding 50km/h, and
  • either:
    • an engine capacity not exceeding 50cc, or
    • a power source other than a piston engine.

For vehicles first registered prior to 1 May 2011

A moped includes a motor vehicle with three wheels, a power output not exceeding 2kW and a maximum speed of 50km/h.

There are definitions for three wheel vehicles registered on or after 1 May 2011. Please contact the NZTA for these requirements.

What equipment must my moped have?

Mopeds must have safety equipment fitted and must be in good condition. Mopeds must meet approved standards for items listed:

Must meet approved standard for this item
headlamps
brakes
rear-facing lamp
stop lamps
reflector

Brakes

Your moped must have at least one service brake on each wheel.

Lighting equipment – lamps and reflectors

Your moped must be fitted with:

  • one or two dipped-beam headlamps ('dipped beam' means 'low beam'. It may be a single lamp that is fixed in the dipped position or a lamp that can be dipped by the rider). When turned on, this must illuminate the road in front for at least 30 metres
  • at least one red rear-facing lamp that can be seen from 100 metres away when turned on
  • at least one rear reflector that can be seen from 100 metres away when light shines on it.

If your moped was first registered in New Zealand on or after 1 January 1991, it must also be fitted with one or two rear stop lamps (brake lights).

Rear-view mirror

If your moped was manufactured on or after 1 July 2000, it must have a rear-view mirror that gives you a clear view behind the moped.

Other equipment

Your moped must also have:

  • good quality tyres. The tread pattern must be clearly visible across at least 3/4 of the tread width and around the entire circumference
  • a horn that can be heard by other road users from at least 100 metres away (in normal traffic conditions)
  • mudguards (if it is practical to fit them)
  • an exhaust system, in good condition, that is not excessively noisy
  • adequate footrests or pedals for the rider and any pillion passenger.

Your responsibilities

Mopeds aren't inspected for a warrant of fitness, but it is up you to:

  • make sure your moped is fitted with equipment that complies with the law
  • make sure your moped is maintained in a safe operating condition
  • wear your motorcycle helmet
  • follow the road rules.

If you don't, you could get an infringement fine or be taken to court.

Manufacturers' and retailers' responsibilities

Manufacturers and retailers must make sure that any moped they sell, and its equipment, complies with the law. Standards markings and information supplied by manufacturers can be used to show that a moped and its equipment comply.

It's an offence to sell a motorcycle helmet that doesn't meet an approved standard.

Motorcycle helmet standards

Your helmet should have a sticker inside it stating which standard it complies with. The approved standards stickers are set out below.

JIS T8133.

Complies with JIS T8133

UN/ECE 22.

Complies with UN/ECE 22 - the number denotes a country.

In this example 4 is The Netherlands

NZS 5430.
Complies with NZS 5430
BS 6658.

Complies with BS 6658
AS 1698.

Complies with AS 1698
Snell standard.



Snell Standard.




Complies with Snell standards
Helmets complying with FMVSS 218 are marked with the letters 'DOT'. This standard is acceptable only for motorcycle helmets that have been manufactured and purchased in the USA.

Where you can find out more

  • Call our contact centre: 0800 699 000.
  • Email us: info@nzta.govt.nz
  • Write to us: NZ Transport Agency, Private Bag 6995, Wellington 6141.