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Know the rules

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Know the rules

It’s important to know the rules before you fly your drone.  It’s an aircraft, so can be a hazard to people, property and other aircraft.  Understanding the rules will help you to keep yourself, your drone and other aircraft safe when operating your drone.

The rules you need to follow are part of the New Zealand Civil Aviation Rules. Complying with them can also help you avoid fines or prosecution.  Here’s a simple to follow checklist of the key rules – there’s also a downloadable brochure, and a Share the Skies video to watch – see below.

Fly no higher than 120m (400ft) above the ground

Unless special conditions are met. This reduces the risk of your drone being a hazard to other aircraft.

Stay a safe and considerate distance away from people and buildings

Don’t fly directly over people, unless they say it’s OK.

Don’t fly over private land, such as farms or houses, unless the owner says it’s OK

Check with the local council or the Department of Conservation before flying in public areas such as parks, beaches and reserves.

Keep your drone in direct sight at all times

Fly only in daylight (unless shielded) and when visibility is good – stay clear of fog and cloud. First person view (FPV) flights must have an observer - i.e. those using a device to fly their drone.

Stay 4km away from anywhere aircraft are landing or taking off

Unless you can meet the special requirements. This includes helipads at hospitals and those used by sightseeing aircraft. Be aware that controlled airspace around airports extends well beyond the 4km limit – you must have clearance from air traffic control to operate in any controlled airspace. Don’t fly in special use airspace, such as Low Flying Zones, Restricted or Military Operating Areas without approval from the administering authority.

It’s dangerous to fly drones anywhere other aircraft are operating

If you see another aircraft, stay well clear of it and land immediately.

Visiting New Zealand and want to fly a drone?

If you’re a visitor to New Zealand and want to fly a drone while here, please read our FAQs around drone use by tourists, to understand the rules.

Part 101 rules for uncrewed aircraft

When flying your drone you need to follow the CAA's Part 101 rules, to keep yourself, others and your aircraft safe.

Part 102 certification

If you're unable to comply with the Part 101 rules, you most apply for a Part 102 uncrewed aircraft operator certificate.