Who's responsible for setting the rules?
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for flying drones, also known as Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS) or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).
The Northland Regional Council does not have any rules for operating drones in Northland.
Do I need a licence?
No, you don't require a licence to operate a drone, but there are things you must know before you fly.
As the regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority website is a good place to start. This website has links to the rules, new advisory notices, and other helpful information.
Do you have any rules top tips?
Under the New Zealand Civil Aviation Rules, 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 (eg, not through binoculars, a monitor, 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 clearance 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.
Can I fly over parks and reserves?
You must gain approval from the appropriate authority to operate a drone in one of Northland’s parks or reserves.
Whangarei District Council
All flights over a Whangarei District Council park or reserve must be approved by application.
Go to www.wdc.govt.nz for more information
Far North District Council
All flights over a Far North District Council park or reserve must be approved by application.
For more information, contact the Far North District Council on 0800 920 029 or email:
Kaipara District Council
All flights over a Kaipara District Council park or reserve must be approved by application.
For more information, contact the Kaipara District Council on 0800 727 059 or email:
Department of Conservation
All flights over Department of Conservation (DOC) land (reserve/campsite/conservation land) must be approved by application.
Department of Conservation website: www.doc.govt.nz
Are there rules for beaches?
The coastal marine area has a "no ownership" status, with small exceptions. Therefore, the provision for landowner approval does not apply. All other Part 101 rules apply, as shown above.
Can I fly over regional council land?
As most of regional council is commercial real estate, it is generally inappropriate for recreational purposes. For this reason, council requests that any flight is approved by the council's tenant and submitted for approval to email@example.com at least 3 working days prior to the flight.
Can I make a complaint about UAVs and UAV operators?
If you have concerns about a drone operation, you may make a complaint to CAA - Inward Safety Information. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If a drone flies above you or your property without permission and you feel your privacy has been breached, you can make a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner.
If there is an urgent risk to public safety, contact the police.
Any breaches of civil aviation rules must be referred to the Civil Aviation Authority.
Any other useful resources?
The Airshare website - www.airshare.co.nz is a great resource for any drone operator.
On the Airshare website you can find:
NZ Drone Safety Video from Airshare
Airshare have produced a video to help you understand where you can fly and where you can't as a drone pilot according to New Zealand's CAA regulations.