With drones becoming increasingly popular, more and more people are looking for information on drone laws New Zealand. But you can’t just ask anyone. Most people don’t really understand how to use drones legally in New Zealand and if they aren’t careful they could end up breaking the law without even knowing. Knowing how to fly a drone can be very challenging, knowing the regulations can be even harder. 

The drone laws in New Zealand are fairly straightforward. You can fly your drone at a maximum height of 400 feet and within 500 meters of an aircraft, but you can’t fly it over crowds or private property without permission.

Drone Laws New Zealand

Drone Laws New Zealand

UAV laws are always changing, and the pace is accelerating. Learning about these new drone laws in New Zealand will be important for anyone who flies a drone commercially. Whilst consumers can fly new drones within a small area, aerial photographers and videographers will need to take their time and read through all of the relevant information from the CAA, to make sure that they do not flout any of the latest drone regulations.

The below guide covers everything you need to know about the new drone laws in New Zealand, including the rules on flying drones, what you can and can’t include in your operations, how far away you need to fly a drone from people and property, how to operate them at night with lights on and how to get an exemption or approval to carry out commercial UAV operations.

Please Read The Rules Before You Fly Your Drone In New Zealand

Before you fly your drone in New Zealand, please read the rules.

You Need A Caa Operating Certificate

If you are flying a drone in New Zealand, you will need to apply for and obtain a CAA operating certificate.

The CAA operating certificate is free. You can apply online at no cost, and we’ll get back to you with your certificate within one working day. It’s valid for two years from the date of issue so long as your registration details remain current and accurate with us during that time frame.

You Do Not Need Permission To Fly Outside Controlled Airspace

You can fly a drone:

  • 4km from aerodromes and landing zones, whether they are manned or unmanned (controlled by air traffic control). This is the same as in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • 4km from heliports, even if they are manned or unmanned. This is also the same as in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • 4km from sensitive land like prisons, jails or hospitals; defence force establishments; prisons or jails; off-shore installations including drilling rigs; national parks; conservation areas such as lakeside forests; natural reserves – all of which should be marked on official maps with signs saying ‘No Entry’ or ‘Authorised Personnel Only’ etc., so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding them! You will also be able to see these places on Google Maps at http://maps.googleapis.com/.

Recreational Drone Operators

If you’re a recreational drone operator, it’s important to know where you can and cannot fly your drone. This is especially true if you are using a drone to take photos of the scenery.

For example, there are many airports and airfields in New Zealand that have restricted airspace around them. If your drone flies within this area without permission, then it may be intercepted by an aircraft or security personnel.

You should also avoid flying any drones near landing zones on public land as well as private property; these areas include helipads and helipads for both commercial and private use (see here for more information). In addition to these restrictions, recreational operators must ensure that they stay at least 4km away from aerodromes and landing zones when operating their drones

Stay At Least 4km Away From Heliports

For recreational operators, the minimum distance you must keep from heliports is 4km. However, this does not mean that you can only fly up to 4km away from heliports; it’s just the least amount you can fly before breaking the rules.

If you are flying over your own backyard, this is considered private land and not recreational activity because the area has no designated purpose other than air activities such as flying drones or practicing skydiving.

Commercial Drone Operators

Commercial Drone Operators must apply for permission to fly in controlled airspace or near aerodromes and heliports. Commercial operators must follow the rules of the CAA and adhere to a set of rules laid out by the Civil Aviation Act.

The CAA has created a new set of rules that will allow commercial drone pilots to begin operating legally in New Zealand from 1 July 2019, but this is only if they have applied for an exemption from these rules.

Don’t Fly Over People

Flying over your own backyard is not considered recreational activity. If you are flying over people, property or sensitive land without their knowledge it is not recreational activity either.

Flying an aircraft for recreational purposes includes:

  • Flying a model aircraft for sport or fun in a public place (including parks)
  • Flying in an uncontrolled airspace (blueline)

Registration Of Drone In New Zealand

Registration Of Drone In New Zealand

Step 1: Sign Up

  • Sign up for an account.
  • Enter your email address.
  • Enter your password.
  • Enter your mobile phone number.
  • Enter your name and country of residence, and then click Next to continue to the next step in the registration process.

Step 2: Complete The Online Test

Once your application has been approved and you’ve paid, you must pass a multiple-choice drone code of conduct test. This test is based on New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Rules that apply to drones and their users. You’ll be presented with 40 questions, which are all multiple choice with four possible answers. You must score 80% or higher to pass this exam and be registered as an owner.

The questions cover topics such as basic safety rules for flying; restrictions around operating near other people, buildings or vehicles; how to take off from or land on water; how to fly safely near airports; where you can fly; what sort of airspace you’re allowed in (controlled vs uncontrolled); what altitudes are permitted for different types of aircrafts; how to communicate with air traffic controllers when flying within controlled airspace.

Step 3: Complete Your Application Form

Provide your contact details, such as your name, address, and phone number. Provide the drone’s make and model and serial number (if applicable). Specify if you are a New Zealand citizen or resident. Choose how long you want to register your drone for: 1 year; 2 years; 5 years; 10 years. Pay by credit card (Visa or MasterCard) or debit card (Visa Debit or Maestro).

You can also pay by internet banking using one of these three NZ bank accounts: ASB Bank Ltd., ANZ National Bank Ltd., Kiwibank Ltd., Westpac Banking Corp., TSB Bank Ltd., HSBC New Zealand Ltd.. If paying by direct debit from a bank account in another country other than New Zealand, please ensure that it is not an overseas transaction as this will incur international fees on top of any local transaction fees charged by the banks involved which may be substantial depending upon which currencies are being used at any given time so please check with each institution before doing so!

Once all fields have been filled out click “Submit” button at bottom of page to proceed with payment instructions screen where instructions appear alongside icons allowing access menu options including cancel payment action link should user wish not proceed further for whatever reason (e.g.,”I’m still thinking about it” reason).

Step 4: Send Your Payment Details 

You can pay by credit card, debit card or bank transfer. Alternatively, if you prefer to use a cheque please complete the form below. If paying by bank transfer, please make sure that your account is set up for online payments and that it has sufficient funds available to cover the transaction.

Payments from within New Zealand may be made by internet banking or at any Westpac branch after completing the secure link provided in your invoice email. Payments from outside New Zealand are not accepted via internet banking but can be made at any Westpac branch after completing the secure link provided in your invoice email.

Please note that all payments received over $10 000 must have an additional reference number generated by our office (this will be provided on request). In addition to this we require a copy of three forms of identification: Passport; Birth Certificate; Driver’s License (if applicable).

Step 5: You’ll Get Your Certificate Of Registration

You’ll get your certificate of registration as soon as we can process your payment. You should also receive an email confirming that we’ve received your payment.

You can print your certificate of registration, or save it to your computer.

An Operator Certificate

The operator of a drone weighing 250g or more must register for an operator certificate. The certificate is valid for five years and the certificate must be carried by the operator. The certificate must be produced to an enforcement officer if asked to do so.

Are Drones Allowed In New Zealand

Yes, Drones Are Allowed In New Zealand

You can fly drones in New Zealand. There are rules to follow, though, so make sure you’re familiar with them before you start flying your drone.

  • You must not fly your drone higher than 120 metres (400 feet) above the ground at any time.
  • You must not fly it closer than 4km (2½ miles) to any controlled aerodrome (an airport or heliport).
  • You must not fly it within restricted airspace near airports and other aviation sites such as military bases and prisons—check for details on G-AIRPORT or NZ Airport Info Online maps before flying a drone near an airport, heliport, or restricted area.

It’s Against The Law To Fly A Drone Over People

As a general rule, it’s against the law to fly your drone over people without their permission. This includes filming people in private places and public places. The only exception is if you’re filming someone who is carrying out their duties as a police officer or other law enforcement agent (for example, directing traffic or patrolling the coast).

It’s also against the law for anyone under the age of 16 years old to fly a drone without supervision from an adult aged 18 years or older.

You Can Only Fly A Drone In Daylight Hours And Up To 120 Metres High

No restrictions on the time of day.

However, you must fly your drone at a height that is safe for you and for other people. Flying higher than 120 metres above ground level is not permitted.

The drone must be in sight at all times and you must keep it away from aircraft, vehicles and people who are not participating in your flight.

You Can’t Fly A Drone Closer Than 4 Kilometres Of An Airport

You Can’t Fly A Drone Closer Than 4 Kilometres Of An Airport, or within restricted airspace. Airports are marked on aeronautical charts Restricted airspace is marked on aeronautical charts with a red circle around it.

Frequently Asked Question (drone Laws New Zealand)

Can I Fly A Drone In New Zealand?

Yes, you can fly a drone in New Zealand. However, there are rules and regulations that must be followed to ensure your safety and others’ safety while flying drones in New Zealand. If you do not follow the rules, you may be fined or lose your drone.

How Do I Get Permission?

When you want to fly your drone, it’s important that you get permission from the landowner. If you’re flying your drone at a public event with a crowd of people, then it may also be necessary for you to get permission from both the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and/or local council.

If you are flying your drone on private property where there is no public access and no surrounding neighbors or passersby who might be disturbed by its use, then there should be no need for any authorization from the landowner – although this does not mean that it would necessarily be safe for them!

Do I Need To Register My Drone?

Yes, it is compulsory to register your drone. You can register online with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) by following the steps provided on their website.

You will need to provide some personal details and select which category your drone falls into, as each category requires different information to be provided.

Drones under 250 grams do not require registration if flown in a microlight or ultralight aircraft environment and only for recreational purposes.

Can I Fly A Drone At Night?

Yes, you can fly your drone at night. However, there are a few rules that you need to follow:

  • You must remain within line of sight of your drone at all times. This means that if you cannot see it with the naked eye, it should be grounded until further notice.
  • The maximum distance between yourself and any person or property should be 500m (1/3 mile). If you fly beyond this distance, it is considered an offense under New Zealand law and may result in confiscation of your drone or fines issued by law enforcement officers.


Drones cannot fly above 400 feet (120 meters) or closer than 4 kilometers from an airport, helipad, or airfield. The maximum weight for drones is 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds). Drones cannot be flown within 50 meters of people and must not be operated near vehicles or roads.

It’s very important to be aware of drone laws in New Zealand. Purchasing and operating a drone can be difficult, with rules and laws governing their use in the country.

There are many factors to consider when purchasing a drone, including what you will use your drone for and where you intend on flying it. Drone laws are set for two primary reasons: surveillance and security.

Authorities want to make sure that drones can’t be used for criminal acts, such as hacking. They also don’t want drones flying around sensitive areas, or being used for surveillance purposes without the consent of the owner.

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