You might consider your drone to be a fun toy, but did you know it’s also an aircraft? Because of this there are rules you need to follow while flying to keep yourself, others and your drone safe. Following them properly can also help you avoid fines or prosecution.

Know the rules before you fly

You must follow the Part 101 rules when flying your drone. They are part of the New Zealand Civil Aviation Rules.

Flying your drone

  • Keep your drone below 120 metres (400 feet).
  • Give way to all crewed aircraft e.g planes, helicopters, hang gliders and paragliders. Land your drone immediately if another aircraft approaches.
  • Your drone must weigh under 25kgs. If it's over 25kgs, you must apply for a Part 102 unmanned aircraft operator certificate.
  • Your drone needs to be well maintained, with updates installed regularly.
  • You must be able to see your drone with your own eyes at all times. Don’t watch it fly through binoculars, a monitor or smartphone.
  • Don’t fly behind objects or through or above fog and cloud.
  • Only fly during daylight.

Sharing airspace with other aircraft

  • Stay 4kms away from all airports and helipads – unless you have clearance from the aerodrome operator.
  • Check for any airspace restrictions before you fly.
  • You may be able to fly in controlled airspace by obtaining air traffic control clearance from Airways.
  • Do not fly in special use airspace without the permission of the administering authority of the area (eg, military operating areas or restricted areas).

    Flying near airports (aerodromes)
    Check airspace - AirShare website(external link)

Hazards

  • You must ensure you minimize any hazards you might create with your drone to people, property and other aircraft.

Consent

  • It's safer not to fly over people. If you need to, only fly above people if you have asked for their consent
  • Get consent of the property owner or person in charge of the land you want to fly over.
  • Check with your local council before flying in public places like parks and reserves. Your regional council’s website 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)


If you need to fly outside the Part 101 drone rules, you will need to hold a Part 102 unmanned aircraft operator certificate. The certification process requires you to show how you're going to manage the risks associated with operating your drone outside the Part 101 rules.

Part 102 certification for drones

 Ask us about drones

If you have any questions about this topic, use our contact form, or email drones@caa.govt.nz