The Law

To protect the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, the law in New Zealand provides that trains and other rail vehicles have the legal right of way at all times.

Police have the power to issue motorists with an instant fine for breaking the law at a level crossing, or decide whether the offence will be subject to a more serious charge such as dangerous or careless driving, or in severe cases, manslaughter.

Level Crossings

You can be fined $150 or convicted up to a maximum of $20,000 for walking or driving across a level crossing when there is a risk of a collision with a train or other rail vehicle.You can also be fined $150, or convicted up to a maximum of $1,000 for doing the following:

  • Failing to stop at a stop sign at a level crossing
  • Failing to remain stopped at a stop sign until the level crossing is clear
  • Failing to give way to a rail vehicle at a level crossing controlled by a give way sign
  • Entering a level crossing when the red lights are operating
  • Entering a level crossing when the barrier arm is lowered
  • Entering a level crossing when the passage or exit is blocked
  • Passing a vehicle stopped at a level crossing
  • Passing a vehicle at or within 60 metres of a level crossing
Locomotive engineers (train drivers) are obliged to complete formal written reports when they witness illegal behaviour around level crossings.  These reports are forwarded on to the Police who determine how the matter should be handled.

In 2010 a man was sentenced to three years' jail following a conviction for manslaughter and three counts of dangerous driving causing death.  The charges followed the death of his young son after he drove around lowered barrier arms and into the path of an oncoming freight train.The offences around level crossings are set out in section 2.11 and Part 9 of the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 and the penalties are provided for in the Land Transport (Offences and Penalties) Regulations 1999.


It is against the law to enter railway land in New Zealand without the express permission of the "appropriate licensed access provider" (KiwiRail).

This means that you are considered to be trespassing if you walk along tracks or cross the tracks at any point other than a designated pedestrian level crossing.

Trespass offences are set out in section 73 of the Railways Act 2005.

You can be fined a maximum of $10,000 for trespassing on the rail corridor if ordered by a District Court Judge on summary conviction.
More information about the safety risks associated with trespassing on the rail corridor can be found here.

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