More drones in the air?

Are there more drones above our heads? | Photo: Supplied

Are drones wrecking your buzz? In the last few weeks, the number of drones operating over the lakes and beaches, and public and private spaces has increased according to our readers. The Wanaka Sun has also received reports of a drone crash-landing on one woman’s roof and another crashing in a family’s garden, with residents asking, ‘what are the rules around drones flying overhead?’

If you fly a UAV, UAS or RPAS, then you must comply with Civil Aviation Authority regulations and local authority policies. In general, the terms Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) and drone are all references to an aircraft/aircraft system that is flown from a remote location without a pilot in the aircraft.

In short, before flying a drone over people you must obtain their consent, whether or not you are filming. The same applies when flying over private land, consent must be sought from the landowner or person in charge of the area you wish to fly over.

According to Queenstown Lakes District Council’s policy on drones, it doesn’t give approval for remote controlled aircraft (including drones) to fly over the district’s parks, reserves and roads, unless it is for a commercial film permit and the operator is certificated under Part 102 of the Civil Aviation Act.

“We are working on a new policy that will consider all the implications for our public spaces and the community who use them. In the meantime, if you wish to fly drones in the Queenstown Lakes District you will need to approach private landowners independently for their approval. It is important to note that CAA rules will still apply and must be adhered to including rules restricting use of remote controlled aircraft (including drones) within controlled airspace and within 4km of aerodromes.”

In addition to this, to fly over any publicly owned conservation land, you will need to apply for a concession from the Department of Conservation.

For more information on where you can and can not operate your UAV, check out the UAV and drone hub for New Zealand,

Under Part 101 of Civil Aviation Act, there are 12 key things that drone operators must adhere to:

  1. Do not operate an aircraft that is 25kg or larger, and always ensure that the aircraft is safe to operate.

  2. At all times take all practicable steps to minimize hazards to persons, property and other aircraft.

  3. Fly in the daylight only.

  4. Give way to all crewed aircraft.

  5. Be able to see the aircraft with your own eyes (eg, not through binoculars, a monitor, or smartphone) to ensure separation from other aircraft.

  6. Do not fly your aircraft higher than 120m above ground level (unless certain conditions are met).

  7. Have knowledge of airspace restrictions that apply in the area you want to operate.

  8. Do not fly closer than 4km from any aerodrome (unless certain conditions are met).

  9. When flying in controlled airspace, obtain an air traffic control clearance issued by Airways (via airshare - - My Flights).

  10. Do not fly in special use airspace without the permission of the controlling authority of the area (e.g. military operating areas or restricted areas).

  11. Have consent from anyone you want to fly above,whether or not you are filming.

  12. Have the consent of the property owner or person in charge of the area you are wanting to fly above.


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