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Model aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV; Drones)

Rules which were introduced by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which came into effect on 1 August 2015, require people to obtain approval from the owner or occupier of the land which you want to fly over. This rule is in addition to the existing CAA and Air traffic Control rules on where and how you can fly unmanned aircraft, and what permissions you need to get before doing so.

The Civil Aviation Authority regulate civil aviation in New Zealand and set the rules around the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System: Unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAV), Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), model aircraft and drones – unmanned aircraft.

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Where can you fly and what permissions do you need?

A portion of the Waikato District is within controlled Airspace. This means that if you want to fly anything in that airspace, you need permission from Air Traffic Control.

In addition, CAA define four-kilometre zones around all aerodromes, where the use of the airspace is further restricted. In these zones, you need to have a pilot license (or be accompanied by someone who does) in addition to having permission from Air Traffic Control. These restrictions apply specifically to any aerodrome listed in the Aeronautical Publication of New Zealand.

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  • The pink area are control zones which are managed by Air Traffic Control.
  • The blue circles are 4km radius around aerodromes.
  • The orange areas are low flying Zones, UAVs are not permitted to fly in low flying zones.
UAV flying zones

Under the Waikato District Council (WDC) general policies reserve management plan, the use of model aircraft and UAV is prohibited on council reserves (unless specifically allowed for in Reserve Management Plans). In certain circumstances, exemptions may be granted when requests are made in writing.

Applications are to be made using the form below at least 21 days prior to your proposed flight date. Applications will be considered and assessed using the criteria provided here.


Prohibited UAV flying zones

  • The Point, Ngaruawahia
  • Papahua Recreation Domain, Raglan
  • All Cemeteries and Pa Sites

Applications to operate at reserves, near residential properties, are unlikely to be granted.

Consent of other reserve users

If approval is granted, the operator will still be required to obtain consent from other reserve users and neighbours (if applicable) in accordance with CAA rules.
Shielded operations

Shielded operations are those where you must be flying your UAV within 100m of an object like a building or a tree. You must fly below the height of that object. However, you must log your flight plan and obtain landowners permission.

To obtain authorisation from Air Traffic Control, register and log your flights on the Airshare UAV hub. The Airshare hub also provides a wealth of other information, including links to the CAA rules and news on the UAV industry.

I want to complain about UAVs flying

If you are concerned that the rules are being breached, please contact the CAA on isi@caa.govt.nz or phone 0508 4SAFETY. If there is an imminent threat to people or property, please contact the Police.