Published date: 30 October 2020

The CAA is to lift the restricted airspace above and around Whakaari White Island on 31 October 2020.

Restricted Area NZR 200 was established after the eruption of the volcano on 9 December 2019.

Although the restriction will be lifted, all existing rules in Civil Aviation Rules, Part 91 still apply, including the specific guidance for general aviation activity inside a Volcanic Hazard Zone.

Those rules include:

91.137 Volcanic hazard zones

A pilot must not operate an aircraft within a volcanic hazard zone designated under Part 71

(1) during the night; or

(2) in IMC; or

(3) in VMC during the day unless the pilot determines that, after considering all of the following, the volcanic hazard will not affect the safety of the flight:

(i) relevant meteorological information contained in SIGMET:

(ii) NOTAM information;

(iii) other information provided for this purpose by an organisation that holds a meteorological service certificate issued by the Director of Civil Aviation under the Act and Part 174.

Standard flight rules also continue to apply as follows:

91.311 Minimum heights for VFR flights

(a) A pilot-in-command of an aircraft must not operate the aircraft under VFR—

(1) over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons at a height of less than 1000 feet above the surface or any obstacle that is within a horizontal radius of 600 metres from the point immediately below the aircraft; or

(2) over any other area—

(i) at a height of less than 500 feet above the surface; or

(ii) at a height of less than 500 feet above any obstacle, person, vehicle, vessel, or structure that is within a horizontal radius of 150 metres from the point immediately below the aircraft.

Unmanned aviation 

With specific reference to activities involving unmanned aviation (UA), all guidance contained within Civil Aviation Rules Part 101 applies, with specific emphasis placed on the following:

CAR 101.207 [Airspace] – don’t operate over the Island unless you have prior consent to do so from the private land owner; and don’t operate above 400 ft AGL unless you have a NOTAM issued at least 24 hours before the intended flight.

CAR 101.209 [Visual line of sight] – operators must be able to see the aircraft at all times.

CAR 101.213 [Right of way] – must give way to and remain well clear of all manned aircraft.

Landing on Whakaari/White Island

In addition to the Civil Aviation Rule requirements, no aircraft may land on Whakaari/White Island without prior permission from the private landowner, unless as a result of an aircraft emergency situation.

More information

For more information see Parts 91 and 101 of the Civil Aviation Rules or for further questions email