Drone Laws in New Zealand

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in New Zealand

Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAANZ)


UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in New Zealand

The New Zealand agency responsible for drone safety, CAANZ, has provided several internet-accessible details on flying a drone for fun or work. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details go to the link above.

Are drones allowed in New Zealand?

According to CAANZ, drones are allowed in New Zealand, subject to CAANZ regulations. Read on for details.

When flying unmanned aircraft, you need to follow the Part 101 rules. If you cannot follow the rules outlined below, you must apply for a Part 102 certification.

Before you fly

  • Aircraft must NOT exceed 25kg and must always be safe to operate and well maintained.
  • You must take steps to minimize hazards to people, property, and other aircraft.
  • Only fly during daylight unless you are doing a shielded operation.
  • Give way to all crewed aircraft, e.g., planes, helicopters, hang gliders, and paragliders. Land your aircraft immediately if another aircraft approaches.
  • You must be able to see your unmanned aircraft with your own eyes at all times. Don’t watch it through binoculars, a monitor, or a smartphone. Also, do not fly it behind objects or through or above fog and clouds.
  • Fly below 120 meters (400 feet) above ground level.
  • Get consent before flying over people and property.
  • There are several no-fly zones – check for any airspace restrictions in your area before you fly.

Share the skies – drone rules brochure [PDF 565 KB]

Where can you fly?

Airspace can be designated as controlled or special use airspace.

Controlled airspace is where there is a need for an air traffic control service for the safety and efficiency of aircraft operations. Special use airspace includes restricted areas, military operating areas, mandatory broadcast zones, volcanic hazard zones, danger areas, and low flying zones.

Maps showing the boundaries of controlled and other special use airspaces, called Visual Navigation Charts (VNC), are available for purchase from the Aeronautical Information Shop(external link). In addition, you can view these electronically on the AirShare(external link)website.

  • You may be able to fly in controlled airspace by obtaining air traffic control clearance from Airways. You can request this authorization through AirShare using the My Flights(external link) tool.
  • You don’t need authorization from air traffic control if you can conduct your flight as a shielded operation.
  • Stay 4 km away from all aerodromes – unless you’ve got clearance from the aerodrome operator. See Aerodromes section for other conditions.
  • Do not fly in special use airspace without the permission of the administering authority. For example, military operating areas or restricted areas.
  • It’s safer NOT to fly over people. However, if you need to, only fly above people if you have asked for their consent.
  • Get the consent of the property owner or person in charge of the land you want to fly over.
  • Check with your local council or the Department of Conservation before flying in public places like parks and reserves. Your regional council’s website, for example, will have information about drone use in your area. You must apply for a permit from the Department of Conservation to fly over conservation land.

Drone use on conservation land(external link)

Here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in New Zealand:

  • Drones must weigh no more than 25 kilograms (55 pounds), and drone pilots must ensure that their drones are safe to fly before taking flight. 
  • Drone pilots must always take reasonable precautions to avoid endangering persons, property, or other aircraft (i.e., do not fly recklessly). 
  • Drones are only permitted to fly during daylight hours. 
  • Drones must yield to crewed aircraft at all times. 
  • At all times, drone pilots must maintain a direct visual line of sight with their drones. 
  • Drones are not permitted to fly higher than 120 meters (394 feet) above the ground. 
  • Drone pilots must be familiar with the airspace restrictions that apply to the area in which they operate. 
  • A drone may not be flown within a radius of four kilometers (2.5 miles) of an aerodrome. 
  • Drone pilots must obtain an air traffic control clearance from Airways to fly in controlled airspace. 
  • Drone pilots are not permitted to operate in special use airspace without the permission of the area’s administering authority (e.g., military operating areas or restricted areas). 
  • Drone pilots must obtain consent before flying over an individual. 
  • Before flying over property or area, drone pilots must obtain the consent of the property owner or person in charge.
  • Consult your local council or the Department of Conservation before flying over public areas such as parks and reserves. 
  • Avoid flying a drone near marine life. Under the 1992 Marine Mammals Protection Regulations, no aircraft shall be closer than 150 meters (500 feet) horizontally from a point directly above any marine mammal when operating at less than 600 meters (2,000 feet) above sea level.

Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in New Zealand

New Zealand drone rules aren’t separated into recreational and commercial rules like some other countries. 

You must follow the Part 101 rules when flying your drone.

If you need to fly outside the Part 101 drone rules, you will need to hold a Part 102 unmanned aircraft operator certificate.

Intro to Part 101 rules for unmanned aircraft

Intro to Part 102 certification for unmanned aircraft

You must have a concession (permit) from DOC to fly a drone (of any size) on public conservation land for any reason, including private and non-commercial use.

Get more information about using private drones on public conservation land on this link: NZ recreational use permits for drone use on public conservation land


Notes for Commercial Drone Services operations in New Zealand

New Zealand drone rules aren’t separated into recreational and commercial rules like some other countries. 

You must follow the Part 101 rules when flying your drone.

If you need to fly outside the Part 101 drone rules, you will need to hold a Part 102 unmanned aircraft operator certificate.

Intro to Part 101 rules for unmanned aircraft

Intro to Part 102 certification for unmanned aircraft

You must have a concession (permit) from DOC to fly a drone (of any size) on public conservation land for any reason, including private and non-commercial use.

Get more information about using private drones on public conservation land on this link: NZ commercial use permits for drone use on public conservation land


Useful published information on flying drones in New Zealand

Here is a useful introduction video by CAANZ and Airshare NZ on flying a drone legally in New Zealand…

NOTE: Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS), Small UAS, Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), and drone are interchangeable terms unless specified. Model aircraft, toy aircraft, Remote controlled aircraft, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.


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IMPORTANT NOTE

The content on this site is collated by volunteers from public general information. This material is not presented as legal advice of any kind, and we cannot guarantee that the information is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. Do not substitute the information you find here for legal advice from a licensed attorney who is authorized to practice in the jurisdiction. When in doubt, contact the local aviation authority responsible for drone safety, utilize a licensed drone service operator, and/or consult a qualified attorney.

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