🖐 In this blog post we’ll share all drone law links & known rules around recreational & commercial drone uses in New Zealand (Auckland). Give a 👍 at the end of this post if you enjoyed it & feel free to ask any questions or share your experience in The Forum. Keep in mind that the content below is updated to the best of our ability & does not replace official sources & your own research.
Recreational vs Commercial drone use in New Zealand
New Zealand does not differentiate commercial & recreational drone use - see our post to differentiate recreational vs commercial drone usage. However, both are subject to restrictions & a strict code of conduct. Additionally, depending on your drone's weight & your destination within the country, different rules will apply.
✅ In New Zealand, the regulation and control of drone use falls under the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAANZ) & they can be contacted anytime via:
Phone: (+64) 0508 222 433
✅ New Zealand doesn’t require a licence for remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), including drones. All drone pilots must follow the Civil Aviation regulation (CAR Part 101) given by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) & apply to drones, which essentially requires they consider others and be responsible when flying.
🚨 National Parks & public conservation lands require a permit. The fee for recreational use is NZ$74.75 (inc. GST) & for commercial use NZ$264.5 - NZ$2,374.75 (inc. GST) based on the intentions of the flight.
To apply for a Public Conservation Land drone recreational use permit - click here
To apply for a Public Conservation Land drone commercial use permit - click here
Can I travel to New Zealand with my drone?
✅ Currently, there doesn't seem to be any restrictions on bringing drones within New Zealand as long as your import is considered as legitimate (generally one drone per person).
🚨 Be aware of the airline you purchase to travel as some main ones will only accept your drone on-board if its batteries are detached & placed in a firecase during travel time. Most airlines will have a battery voltage limit based on the recommendation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). You can find more info about a specific airline here.
Where can I fly my drone in New-Zealand?
✅ See below a map drafted by airshare, you can find it here anytime. This map is valid for all types of unmanned vehicle flights and will basically tell you if you need a permit or not - but see more in details below based on your flight purposes.
New Zealand Drone Fly Map
The legend stands as:
The bordeaux areas are control zones; managed by Air Traffic Control.
The green areas are Military Operating Areas.
The blue circled areas indicate a 4km radius around aerodromes.
The bright blue areas are Restricted Areas.
The orange areas are Low Flying Zones - drones are not permitted.
🚨 Note, this map does not seem to include the National Parks & Conservation Lands from which you will need a permit to fly 🌲
🚨 Flying in public spaces other than conservation lands & national parks is managed by local council. You can find here all of them and what they allow/not such as flying in a communal park for example.
Recreational & Commercial Drone use in New Zealand
You do not need a permission or a license for drone recreational use in New Zealand. However, there are strict rules depending on your drone's weight, your flight zones and a code of conduct to follow for all operators. When it comes to drone commercial use, you do not need a license but will need a permit than can be applied here.
Additionally, you must fly:
at a maximum altitude of 120 m above the ground.
away from private property, vehicles in movement, people or large crowds & respect individuals' privacy.
a drone weighting less than 25 kg (see below for further explanations).
after a full check of your drone's capacity of flying (make sure nothing is wrong on it).
at least 4 km away from airports (any airport, seaplane base or area where aircraft or helicopter take off & land) & give way to all other type of aircraft.
only during permitting weather, within your sight at all times.
it is advised to subscribe to an insurance covering all risks.
away from areas where its use could interfere with police or first responders.
avoiding sensitive areas including government or military facilities.
away from parks & conservation lands without authorization. Also, no closer than 150 m horizontally to a marine mammal without a permit.
you cannot fly outdoors at night, unless flying within a ‘shielded operation’ (a flight where your aircraft remains within 100 m of, and below the top of, a natural or man-made object. For example, a building, tower, or trees).
✅ New Zealand even prepared a little safety video - "how cool" 😍
🚨 If your drone weights 15 kg < 25 kg it needs to be constructed or inspected, approved & operated under the authority of an approved Person or Organisation - see here (Part 101). If your drone weights 25 kg+ or that you wish to fly at night - see here (Part 102).
The following organisations or persons have been approved to conduct training:
Aviation Safety Management Systems Ltd (ASMS) (Parts 101 and 102) Flight Test New Zealand (Parts 101 and 102) HFT 2016 Ltd trading as Fly UAV (Parts 101 and 102) Massey University (Parts 101 and 102) Aviation Training Limited (Parts 101 and 102)
What do I risk for flying a drone illegally in New Zealand?
The amount & scope of the fine will depend on the nature & severity of your infraction. The judges will also evaluate if you intentionally committed the infraction and/or if you had any commercial purposes to do such. However, local authorities specific that fines ranging between NZ$500 & NZ$1,000 for not complying have been issued - see the case of Mr Reeve.
Once you got everything in order, you can start flying above New Zealand's awesome landscapes & create videos like this one:
✅ Please leave a comment or update the Forum when you receive news and/or gain experience with your drone in New Zealand! Have fun & safe flight!
Disclaimer: Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information researched, we take no responsibility for any loss, harm or damage caused as a direct or indirect consequence of relying on this information. It is your responsibility to seek advice from qualified local & relevant authorities for needed information about local drone regulations.
Full drone regulations - Library of Congress.
To report a drone rule breach in New Zealand, contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Freephone: 0508 4 SAFETY (0508 472 338)
For any questions about how to fly your drone safely & legally in New Zealand.