Flying drones in New Zealand, everything worth knowing – backpacking tips

Drone rules in New Zealand and how to fly your drone

Since we have been travelling New Zealand, we have seen a lot of backpackers bringing their drones to New Zealand. And New Zealand is unfortunately one of the easiest countries to fly your drone legally. So here we go and tell you the most important rules and things to know flying your drone in New Zealand.


Drone Pilot with his remote in the hand, think about the rules before flying.

Photo by Christian Langenhan on Unsplash, always think of the rules before flying


Rules for drone flying in New Zealand

What are the rules under Part 101 (covers all recreational fliers and some commercial operators)? There are 12 important things required under Part 101 – you must:


  • Do not operate a plane / drone that is 25 kg or larger and always make sure it is airworthy and safe
  • At all times, perform all practicable steps to minimize risks to persons, property and other aircraft
  • Fly only in daylight
  • Give way to all aircraft with crew and make room in the airspace if you should see this
  • Being able to see the drone with your own eyes (not with binoculars, a monitor, a VR headset or just a smartphone) to provide (or to use the separation from other aircraft observer of you helps to do this in certain cases)
  • Do not fly your plane higher than 120 meters (400 feet) above the ground (unless certain conditions are met)
  • Be aware of airspace restrictions that apply in the area you want to fly
  • Do not fly closer than four kilometres from any airfield or helipad (unless certain conditions are met)
  • When flying in controlled airspace, you will get an Air Traffic Control clearance from Airways (via air share My Flights) and fly only after being released through them
  • Do not fly in special airspace without the permission of the control authority of the area (e.g., military operations areas or aerospace restricted areas)
  • Without approval from any landowner you want to fly over
  • Have the approval of the owner or the person responsible for the area you want to fly over


Owner Permissions – Who do I need to ask for permission to fly my drone (with or without camera)

The New Zealand laws that cover the use of drones, have found that all operators must follow from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) established rules and guidelines as to which the local government is responsible for the area where you want to fly.

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For example, if you want to fly into Queenstown, you must follow the drone policy of the Queenstown Lakes District Council. (Which indicates that they are currently not giving permission for drones to fly over any of their parks, reserves or roads. You are required to obtain permission from each individual private landowner whose property you would fly over.)


Local government regulations vary between different districts, so please do not assume that they are the same in each district. Please visit the Property Owner Consent's website (at https://project-newzealand.com/2hth) for information on many regions around New Zealand. If the place you wish to fly is not on the list, please contact the local council via their website and ask for permission.

This list of local council websites might be helpful (www.lgnz.co.nz/nzs-local-government/new-zealands-councils/).


View from above on the sea and the beach.

Photo by Aral Tasher on Unsplash


What are the rules for flying near airports? (Controlled airspace)

The controlled airspace is the airspace of defined dimensions, in which the air traffic control (ATC) is offered. This is the case around bigger airports.

Controlled airspace is provided to create a safe area for aircraft operations around an airfield for landing and take-off and for aircraft between two airfields.


You must obtain permission for each flight from Air Traffic Control (Airways) to fly in controlled airspace. You can request the authorization through the Air share My Flight online flight log tool mentioned above. (You must first register on the website.) (Air share my Flight Online Flight Protocol)


What are the rules for flying near airfields? (Uncontrolled airspace)

An uncontrolled airfield or heliport means that there is no air traffic service. This means that there are no Airways Air Traffic Controllers managing the airspace around the airfield. It also means that there is no “controlled airspace” around the airfield.


Air share shows uncontrolled airfields and helipads on our maps as blue 4km circles. If you plan to fly in one of these blue circles, read the airfield info page to find out what you need to do. (Info what you have to fulfil as well as the types can be found here).


What are the rules for shielded flying?

A shielded flight must meet the following requirements:

  • An operation of an aircraft within 100 meters and below the top of a natural or man-made object
  • Outside the boundaries of the airfield
  • In the airspace that is physically separated from the airfield by a barrier that is able to cope with the flight of the aircraft
  • How high can I fly unshielded? Up to a maximum of 120 meters (400 feet), but only if you are more than 4 kilometres from an airport / airfield.
  • May I fly over private property? Not as long as you do not have the explicit permission of the owner, preferably in written form.
  • Also for DOC land you need a permit. If you are on DOC land you can find it in the following map: Map with D.O.C country plotted
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How to apply for a permit for your drone on DOC land can be found here on our blog.


View on fields from above.

Photo by jean wimmerlin on Unsplash


Can I fly over public property (including parks, roads, beaches, lakes, rivers, forests, glaciers and mountains)

If you want to fly over public land, you need to find out who owns or manages the land.


The first point of contact would be the local or regional council – look at the maps and link to the regional border map to find out which council is responsible for the place you would like to fly. If the land is not owned by the council, (DOC – you will see their signs around the town if this is the case) or NZTA (for roads and highways). In any case, you must contact the relevant organization for permission. No permission to fly without permission!


May I fly at night?

No, unless you have special permissions under a certificate from the New Zealand authorities. If you are not certified, you can fly your drone only at night when you are screened by an authorised person.


Questions, Ideas or anything else left

If you still have questions or you would like to ask us anything. Then please leave a comment underneath this article. Thanks in advance and have fun flying your drone in New Zealand.


Original source

The original page including all subpages can be found on https://www.airshare.co.nz/.


The most common questions can be found in the FAQ at https://www.airshare.co.nz/tourist-questions-answered.


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