Sports and recreation

Advice on playing sports and other recreational activities at each of the Alert Levels.

Latest update — 21 October 2021

  • Parts of Waikato remain at Alert Level 3. This will be reviewed again on Wednesday 27 October.
  • Auckland remains at Step 1 of Alert Level 3.
  • There are different restrictions for Auckland and Waikato. Please read the information on this page carefully to find out which rules apply to you.

Sports and recreation at Alert Level 1

At Alert Level 1, you can do your usual sport and recreation activities. There are no limits on the number of people you can exercise with. 

Community sports and large sporting events and tournaments can go ahead. There is no limit on the number of spectators. 

All indoor and outdoor recreation facilities such as gyms, swimming pools, climbing walls, driving ranges and skate parks can open.

If you are unwell, you should stay home.

Even if you have been vaccinated against COVID-19, you should still continue to keep track of where you go, wash your hands before and after touching shared equipment and surfaces, and stay home if sick. These actions help to slow the spread of the virus and help protect you, your whānau, and your community.

All sport and recreation event organisers, including voluntary and not-for-profit organisations and businesses providing facilities or venues for sports activities legally must display NZ COVID Tracer app QR codes to help with contact tracing.

Sports and recreation at Alert Level 2

At Alert Level 2, you can do your usual sport and recreation activities if you can do them safely. But if you are sick, stay home. 

When exercising in public, try to keep a 2 metre distance from people you do not know if possible.

You can do activities like:

  • walking, biking and hunting, including on public conservation land — overnight trips are okay
  • swimming at a public swimming pool, but there will be restrictions
  • going to the gym, but there will be restrictions
  • boating and motorised watersports.

When exercising outside, try to record the route you took and when. You can exercise with others in a group. Someone in the group should keep a record of the people you're with.

Using DOC facilities at Alert Level 2 (external link)

Parks and playgrounds

At Alert Level 2, public parks and playgrounds are open and families can get together for their children to play. You can drive to play in a public space, for example a beach or a park.

Try to keep 2 metres away from people you do not know. 

Wash or sanitise your hands after using shared equipment, and encourage tamariki (children) to do the same.

Indoor recreation facilities

At Alert Level 2, indoor sports facilities such as gyms, swimming pools, dance studios and health clubs can open, but with extra safety measures.

You will need to keep 2 metres apart from others. Facilities may restrict numbers to help with physical distancing.

Wipe down and clean shared gym equipment after you use it.

If you use a recreation facility, remember to sign in using the NZ COVID Tracer app.

Advice for workers

  • Personal trainers or coaches are encouraged to wear a face covering as they are in contact with many people.
  • All workers must keep 2 metres apart from customers and clients using the services.

Advice for clients and members

  • You should wear a face covering whenever possible, but it is not a requirement when exercising and playing sports.
  • Keep a record of wherever you visit.
  • Follow physical distancing measures.

Team and community sports

At Alert Level 2, team or community sporting events including those that take place at an event facility — for example at a stadium or arena are considered a gathering and the 100-person limit applies. This includes both indoor and outdoor events. If you are organising a sports event, make sure everyone records their visit. 

You do not need to wear a face covering when participating in team sports.

Alert Level 2 rules for social gatherings

Close contact sports

At Alert Level 2, you can participate in close-contact sports —  for example, boxing, wrestling or martial arts. The person organising the activity needs to make sure they keep a record of all the people participating and spectating.

If you are playing a close contact sport, you may want to modify activities or exercises to limit physical contact. Try to keep 2 metres away from others when you are not participating in the sport or activity.

Try not to share equipment — for example boxing gloves, hit pats, punching bags. If you do need to share equipment, wash or sanitise it before and after you use it.

You do not need to wear a face covering when playing sport. We encourage instructors and trainers to wear one, if possible.

Whitebaiting

At Alert Level 2, you can fish for whitebait as long as you keep a 2 metre physical distance from other fishers. You also need to follow the whitebait regulations.

Skiing and snowboarding

Ski fields can open at Alert Level 2, and you can travel anywhere within an Alert Level 1 or 2 region to go skiing or snowboarding. We encourage you to wear a face covering in places where it is difficult to keep a safe distance from others — for example in lift lines, on the chairlift and in the cafe area.

Advice for skifields

There are no restrictions on the number of people that can be at a skifield, but you may choose to limit numbers to help with physical distancing. Skifields must follow the public health guidelines for businesses. This includes:

  • Customer facing staff in indoor areas must wear a face covering — for example, cafes, retail or ski hire.
  • Displaying an NZ COVID Tracer app QR code, and having an alternate way for customers to record their visit.
  • Limiting indoor cafes and restaurants to 100 people — people must be seated to be served.
  • No more than 100 people in outdoor seating areas — people must be seated to eat and drink.
  • Keeping to physical distancing guidelines — customers must stay 1 metre apart in cafes and restaurants, and 2 metres apart in retail areas — for example at ski hire.
  • Keeping up good hygiene and cleaning practices.

If you are going to a ski field

  • Wear a face covering wherever possible. You must wear a face covering in all indoor areas — for example, in cafes or in the retail store. You can take your mask off to eat and drink.
  • If you are using mountain transport — for example, buses or shuttles, you need to wear a face covering.
  • Scan in using the NZ COVID Tracer app, or record your details for contact tracing.
  • Follow the physical distancing rules when using indoor areas.
  • Try to keep 2 metres away from people you do not know.
  • Wash or sanitise your hands after using shared or rental equipment.
  • Stay home if you are unwell.
  • Follow the advice of the ski field — they may have additional rules to keep you safe.

Professional sporting events

Professional leagues can go ahead at Alert Level 2 because they take place in controlled workplaces.

Elite, professional and semi-professional sporting games can take place at Alert Level 2 using a controlled workplace approach in consultation with WorkSafe.

There are no restrictions on the number of spectators that can attend a sporting event, for example at a stadium or arena — as long as everyone can safely stay 1 metre apart.

Travelling to a sporting event

You can travel to other regions that are at Alert Level 1 or 2 to attend a sports game or tournament. 

If you are travelling to an Alert Level 1 region to watch or take part in a sports game or tournament, make sure you do it in a safe way. This includes:

  • keeping a record of who you have been in contact with, and what transport services you used
  • wearing a face covering on public transport services and flights
  • keeping a 2 metre distance from people you do not know
  • regularly washing or sanitising your hands.

Sports and recreation at Alert Level 3

Auckland and parts of Waikato are at Alert Level 3. For some recreation activities, there are different restrictions for Auckland and Waikato. 

Do not go out to exercise if you have cold or flu symptoms, or if you have been asked to isolate.

Even if you have been vaccinated, you still need to follow the rules to keep everyone safe.

Advice for Auckland

Aucklanders can travel anywhere within the Auckland region for outdoor exercise and recreation. You cannot stay overnight at your bach, holiday home or at a campground. You also cannot travel to Waiheke Island or Great Barrier Island (Aotea Island) for recreation unless you are a resident there.

All recreational activities must be day trips only. 

People in Auckland can now participate in a wider range of recreation activities that were previously not permitted at Alert Level 3. 

These include:

  • water-based activities involving sailing boats, motorised boats or other craft like jet skis, and scuba diving
  • driving to the beach, even if it is not local
  • outdoor exercise classes —  for example, yoga or bootcamp, if they do not involve any physical contact with others
  • fishing from a motorised boat or vessel.

Commercial boating companies should not operate. Boating activities should be limited to people from the same household. 

Outdoor exercise classes can take place with a maximum of 10 people from 10 households. The 10-person limit includes the instructor taking the class. Everyone must stay 2 metres apart. We encourage you to wear a face covering when you are not exercising. You will not be able to use any indoor changing facilities. 

Outdoor playgrounds can open. 

Gyms and indoor recreation facilities must remain closed.

Auckland Council facilities open at Step 1 (external link)

Advice for Waikato

At Alert Level 3, you can exercise in your local area on your own, or with people in your household bubble. 

If you are exercising outside, try to keep a 2 metre distance from people who are not in your bubble.

The most important thing is to stay safe and stay close to home. Go to your local park or beach, not your favourite one. You cannot stay overnight at your bach or holiday home.

Do low-risk activities so you do not need rescuing or medical care. 

Fishing and whitebaiting —  advice for Waikato

If you are in an Alert Level 3 area in Waikato, you can fish from a wharf or the shore but you cannot cast off the rocks or fish from a boat. You can fish from a kayak if you stay within 200 metres of the shore. 

Keep it local — go to your nearest fishing spot, not your favourite fishing spot. 

You can also fish for whitebait during the whitebaiting season. Fish locally, stay 2 metres from other river users and remember boating is not allowed.

You must also comply with all current whitebait regulations, including:

  • only fishing from the banks of rivers or the water’s edge
  • not entering the water
  • not using a boat to fish.

Activities you can do at Alert Level 3 

This advice applies to Auckland and Waikato.

At Alert Level 3, you can do more sports and recreation activities if you are experienced. These include the following:

  • Surfing — if you are not experienced, do not surf.
  • Tramping — is okay for day walks on easy trails. Remember to keep your distance from other people. DOC huts and campsites are closed. Do not go back-country tramping.
  • Mountain biking — is okay on easy trails if you are experienced and know the trail. Choose a trail close to home. Do not go on tracks that are grade 3 or above.
  • Swimming — in safe spots. Do not swim far from shore.
  • Horse riding — if you are an experienced rider and it is low risk.
  • Riding your motorbike — as long as you stay local.

Golf courses, tennis courts, bowling greens and croquet lawns can open to the public, but people will not be able to use the indoor facilities.

You should stay within 200 metres from shore if you are kayaking, canoeing, rowing, surfing, wind surfing or paddle boarding. 

Hunting

You can hunt on both private and public conservation land. You should stay in areas readily accessible from your home, either on foot or by vehicle, and you must stick to your bubble. You should not go on an overnight hunting trip. You can only hunt on foot — using quad bikes, off-road bikes, helicopters and other motorised vehicles is not allowed.

If you are out hunting, you still need to follow the local regulations.

Trails and parks

Some trails or parks may be closed. Check with your local council to see what trails or parks are open before heading out.

Volunteer conservation work

You can do conservation volunteer work — including checking trap lines, planting and weeding.

We recommend only doing the project if it is close to home. You need to be able to keep 2 metres from people outside of your bubble. We recommend not organising large volunteer groups.

Indoor recreation facilities

At Alert Level 3, all indoor recreation facilities such as gyms and swimming pools must close. Personal trainers and exercise instructors can offer virtual sessions that can be done from home.

Sports and recreation at Alert Level 4 

At Alert Level 4, you can exercise in your local area on your own, or with people in your household bubble. 

Stick to simple outdoor exercise, and avoid activities where you can get injured or lost. For example, do not go swimming, surfing, boating, hunting or tramping. It is important emergency services remain available to support the response to COVID-19.  

You can drive to a place to exercise — for example to a park but you should stay close to where you live. Do not travel too far.

You can protect yourself and your whānau by:

  • using sanitiser or washing your hands with soap and water before you leave home and after you arrive home
  • keeping 2 metres away from anyone outside of your household bubble when out exercising.

You do not need to wear a face covering when exercising, but we encourage you to take one with you if physical distancing is difficult. 

Make sure you: 

  • do not meet people who are not in your bubble to exercise
  • avoid touching and using high touch areas like park benches or gates
  • tell someone in your bubble where you are going and how long you plan to be gone for. Take a mobile phone with you so you can be contacted or contact others if you need to. 

Even if you have been vaccinated, you still need to follow the rules to keep everyone safe.

Do not go out to exercise if you have been asked to self-isolate

If you have been asked to self-isolate by public health officials, you cannot leave home to exercise. The people you live with are allowed to leave home to exercise if they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms. Make sure they keep 2 metres away from others and avoid any physical contact.

If you are unsure if you can leave home, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice.

Dog walking

If you have a dog, try walking it around the block instead of driving to a park. Walk your dog on a leash so you can keep a safe distance from others.

Your dog is part of your household bubble. This means your dog should only be walked with people who are in your bubble. Do not meet up with friends and whānau outside of your bubble to walk your dog together.

Professional dog walking services cannot operate during Alert Level 4.

Horse riding

We recommend you do not go horse riding to reduce the risk of an accident. If you do need to ride your horse, do it with people from your household bubble, and within the boundaries of the property where it is kept. Do not transport your horse by float to ride somewhere else.

You should also use your own grooming kit, tack and other equipment to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.  

You can travel to care for your horse, for example to provide it with food and water, if there is no alternative and you are complying with any region-specific travel measures. We recommend you carry proof of your reason to travel, for example documentation showing where the horse is kept.

Beekeeping

You can travel to look after your bees if your hives are not on the property where you live, and you comply with any region-specific travel measures. Try to limit your travel for urgent welfare reasons, for example to manage disease.

Use your own equipment to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Information about looking after your animals and pets | mpi.govt.nz (external link)

Fishing

You can fish from a wharf or the shore, but do not cast off the rocks or fish from a boat. Boating is not allowed. Keep it local — go to your nearest fishing spot, not your favourite fishing spot.

Whitebaiting

At Alert Level 4, you can fish for whitebait during the whitebaiting season. Fish locally, stay 2 metres from other river users and remember boating is not allowed.

You legally must also comply with all current whitebait regulations, including:

  • only fishing from the banks of rivers or the water’s edge
  • not entering the water
  • not using a boat to fish.

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