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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.

Flying of UAVs over many Council reserves is permitted so long as the flyer complies with the following Code of Conduct and all CAA rules. To operate a UAV with an exemption to the following Code of Conduct can be made through the below form, an application must be made to Waikato District Council 21 days prior to the applied flight date. 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.

Code of Conduct

  • Flyers must be aware of and comply with: Civil Aviation Authority rules relating to the operation of unmanned aerial vehicles
  • Must not operate within 20 metres of:
  • Other users or be flown over other users of the park.
  • Park buildings or overhead wires
  • Must not operate within 50 metres of:
  • Livestock (farms animals/horses) on parks, wetlands or nesting/roosting birds.
  • Be aware of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner guidance on preserving peoples' personal privacy by not flying over other people, leased premises or adjoining private property
  • Must not take photographs or film of other people without their prior approval
  • Must not fly over any roads or parked vehicles.
  • Not fly over any works or utility sites on any of the reserves

Restricted Parks

These are sensitive spaces. Casual flying is not permitted, though may be granted for special occasions or activities.

  • The Point Reserve, Ngaruawahia
  • Papahua Reserve, Raglan
  • Woodlands
  • All Cemeteries, Paa sites or sites of historic or cultural significance
  • Open-air public pools

CAA rules

In addition to the rules about controlled airspace, you must comply with the CAA rules. For the latest CAA rules please review their website.

Summary of CAA rules for unmanned aircraft:

  • Aircraft must Not exceed 25kg and must always ensure that it is safe to operate
  • At all times take all practicable steps to minimise hazards to people, property and other aircraft (ie, don’t do anything dangerous)
  • 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 4km from any aerodrome (unless certain conditions are met)
  • When flying in controlled airspace, get an air traffic control clearance from Airways
  • Not fly in special-use airspace without the permission of the controlling authority of the area (eg, military operating areas, low flying zones 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

View the Pilot Airshare map OR maps from our website.

Complete the application form

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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.

drone1 drone2
  • 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.
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 or phone 0508 4SAFETY. If there is an imminent threat to people or property, please contact the Police.