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Information for tourists


FAQs for tourists

If you are planning on taking a vacation to New Zealand to take in (and film) some of our stunning scenery and adventure sports, please take a few minutes to read through this blog post for the things you need to know! ​

Drone rules in New Zealand are set by the Civil Aviation Authority. You can read them here. If you are uncertain about applying the rules in any particular location, you can email the CAA on  ​

Different local authorities around New Zealand also have their own rules and policies regarding drones being flown over land, buildings and other assets owned by the Council. ​

For current information about what policies apply in each area, go to the Property Owner Consent page here on airshare. ​

We have an active community on Facebook, so please  join our Facebook page  – if you can’t find answers anywhere else, feel free to ask on the page or send us a message. ​

Please  register on AirShare and log your flights. You can also request authorisation from Air Traffic Control for flights through the AirShare site.  ​

Review maps of the areas  you would like to fly over to see where the control zones and flight exclusion zones are.  ​

If you are likely to fly anywhere near uncontrolled aerodromes in more remote parts of New Zealand, we have more information for you to read about the process to follow. ​

Have fun and fly safe - we want you to enjoy your visit, but also stick within the rules and support our local drone pilot community by doing so! ​

The primary purpose of AirShare is for drone operators to log their intended flights, submit them for approval from air traffic control, and keep a record for future reference. ​

You don’t need to be a New Zealand resident to register or log your flights on AirShare – anyone is able to do this, in fact you can register even before you arrive in the country. ​

To log your flights on the AirShare site, first you need to register –  click here for the registration page. ​

Watch this handy video to learn how to log a flight via AirShare.

A shielded operation must meet the below requirements: 

  • An operation of an aircraft within 100 metres of, and below the top of, a natural or man-made object; and 
  • Outside of the boundary of the aerodrome; and 
  • In airspace that is physically separated from the aerodrome by a barrier that is capable of arresting the flight of the aircraft. 

What height can I fly to unshielded? 

Up to a maximum of 120 metres (400 feet), but only if you are more than 4 km from an airport/aerodrome. 

Controlled airspace is airspace of defined dimensions within which Air Traffic Control (ATC) services are provided. 

Controlled airspace is in place to provide a safe area for aircraft operations around an aerodrome for landing and take-off and for aircraft enroute between two aerodromes.  

You need to get authorisation for each flight from Air Traffic Control (Airways) to fly in controlled airspace. 

You can request authorisation via the AirShare app.

If your planned flight meets the shielded operation requirements you do not require Air Traffic Control authorisation, however your flight should still be logged on AirShare.

An uncontrolled aerodrome or helipad means that there is no Air Traffic Control service provided. This means that there are no Air Traffic Controllers managing the airspace around the airfield. It also means there is no “controlled airspace” around the airfield. ​​

AirShare depicts uncontrolled aerodromes and helipads on our maps as blue 4km circles. if you are planning to fly in one of these blue circles, read our aerodromes info page to find out what you need to do. ​​

Note: You can fly shielded within the 4km circle if you follow the shielded operation process.  ​​

The rules regarding flying over people state that you must have their permission before you fly overhead, whether or not you are filming.

If you are filming a large event, you will need a Part 102 certificate with a special privilege for flying over people. Warning signs for those attending should also be provided by you or the event organisers. 

Applying for Part 102 is not an overnight process, so please don’t expect you will be able to easily obtain this permission if you are just in New Zealand for a short visit. 

If you are flying in areas where people are likely to be, using a warning sign is also a good idea. 

To fly over private property, you must first gain permission from the property owner/s.

If you want to fly over publicly owned land, you need to identify who owns/manages the land. The first place to contact would be the local or regional council – look at the maps and link above to work out which council is responsible for the location you are interested in.

If the land is not owned or managed by the council, it is most likely to be owned and managed either by the Department of Conservation (DOC – you will see their signs around the location if this is the case) or Waka Kotahi – the New Zealand Transport Agency (for roads and highways). In all cases, you must contact the relevant organisation for permission. 

New Zealand’s National Parks are managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC). They have specific guidelines for flying drones for any purpose above New Zealand’s conservation estate which includes National Parks. To fly over National Parks you must first apply for a concession from DOC which can take up to 5 days to be approved, so you need to plan ahead. This page on the DOC website also gives clear indications which parks you are most likely to be granted permission and which you will not, so please read it first. ​

There is a significant amount of further information on the DOC site  about making applications for a short term or long term concession to fly your drone over the conservation estate. Please read this, including the specific instructions for recreational or commercial use.   ​

Not unless you have special privileges under a Part 102 certificate. If you are not 102 certified, you can only fly your drone at night if you are shielded.

There are 12 key things that are required under Part 101 – you must: 

  • not operate an aircraft that is 25 kg or larger and always ensure that it is safe to operate 
  • at all times take all practicable steps to minimize hazards to persons, property and other aircraft (ie, don’t do anything hazardous) 
  • fly only in daylight 
  • give way to all crewed aircraft 
  • be able to see the aircraft with your own eyes (e.g. not through binoculars, a monitor, VR headset or smartphone) to ensure separation from other aircraft (or use an observer to do this in certain cases) 
  • not fly your aircraft higher than 120 metres (400 feet) above ground level (unless certain conditions are met) 
  • have knowledge of airspace restrictions that apply in the area you want to operate 
  • not fly closer than four kilometres from any aerodrome (unless certain conditions are met) 
  • when flying in controlled airspace, obtain an air traffic control authorisation issued by Airways (via AirShare My Flights)  
  • not fly in special use airspace without the permission of the controlling authority of the area (e.g. military operating areas or restricted areas) 
  • have consent from anyone you want to fly above 
  • have the consent of the property owner or person in charge of the area you are wanting to fly above. 

Part 102 is designed for higher-risk operators. It is extremely flexible, in that very few activities are specifically prohibited (other than carrying passengers, for example). ​  ​​

Instead, certificates will be granted on a case-by-case basis, where the Director of Civil Aviation is satisfied that the operator has identified the risks associated with the intended operation(s) and has a plan in place to mitigate those risks. ​  ​​

If an operator cannot comply with Part 101 this is a good signal that the operation may be higher risk and require certification.  ​​

New Zealand laws covering the use of drones have determined that all operators must follow the rules laid out by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), as well as following the policies of whichever local government authority is responsible for the area you wish to fly in.

For example, if you wish to fly in Queenstown, you need to follow the drone policy of the Queenstown Lakes District Council. (Which states that they currently do not give approval for drones to fly over any of their parks, reserves or roads at present. You are required to seek approval from each individual private landowner whose property you wish to fly over.)

If you want to fly over any publicly owned conservation land, please first visit the Department of Conservation website and read their guidelines for drone operators. First and foremost you will need to apply for a concession which can take up to five days to approve.

Local government regulations vary between councils, so don’t assume they will be the same from one part of the country to another. This list of council websites might be helpful. You can view most councils’ contact details in the AirShare app. The instruction to find property owner consent information is here.

You can also download the maps of the North Island and South Island showing the regions and the names of all the councils to assist in working out which council to contact about the area you wish to fly.