Can You Fly A Drone in New Zealand? (Answered)


In this blog post, we’ll explore the question, “Is drone flying allowed in New Zealand?”.

So, let’s jump in and discover everything you need to know — regulations, penalties (if any) and safety tips to keep in mind!

Can You Fly A Drone in New Zealand

Can You Fly a Drone in New Zealand?

Yes, you can fly a drone in New Zealand. However, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the local regulations and guidelines to ensure a safe and legal flying experience. Here drone flights are regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAANZ), which has specific rules and restrictions in place to protect public safety and privacy. By adhering to these regulations and respecting the local authorities’ guidelines, drone enthusiasts can enjoy capturing stunning aerial footage while exploring New Zealand’s beautiful landscapes.

Overview of Drone Regulations

Let’s take a look at some of the key points for drone regulations:

Maximum Altitude Limits

  • Drones must not fly higher than 120 metres (400 feet) above ground level.
  • Drone operators must ensure that their drone does not exceed this altitude limit, even if the drone’s software allows for higher flights.

Distance Restrictions

  • Drones must not be flown closer than 30 meters (98.4 feet) to people without their consent.
  • Drone operators must maintain a direct line of sight with their drone and not fly it further than 500 meters (1640 feet) horizontally.

Prohibited Activities and Actions

  • Never operate a drone in a manner that causes unnecessary endangerment to people, property, or other aircraft. This includes not flying over people without their consent, maintaining a safe distance from structures, and avoiding controlled airspace unless granted permission by Air Traffic Control.
  • Always have the drone in sight during operation. The use of First Person View (FPV) systems or other similar technology does not absolve the operator of this responsibility. If the drone is not visible to the operator and something goes wrong, the operator must immediately land the drone in a safe manner.

Privacy and Data Protection Considerations

  • All drone operators must respect individuals’ privacy. They should not operate drones over private property or record or photograph people without their explicit consent, in line with the Privacy Act 1993.
  • Data collected by drones, including images or videos, must be handled and stored in accordance with the Privacy Act 1993 and the Information Privacy Principle. Unauthorized distribution or misuse of this data can result in penalties under the Act.

Commercial Operations

  • All drones used for commercial operations must not be flown in controlled airspace without obtaining an air traffic control clearance issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
  • Operators conducting commercial operations must hold a Part 102 Unmanned Aircraft Operator Certificate or operate under the supervision of a certificate holder.

Penalties for Violating Drone Regulations

In New Zealand, if you violate drone regulations, you could face severe penalties. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) can impose fines up to NZD $5000 for individuals who fail to comply with these regulations. Furthermore, if your actions endanger personal safety or property, you may also be prosecuted under the Crimes Act, which can result in a more significant fine and possibly imprisonment.

If your actions pose a significant risk to aviation safety, the penalties can be even more substantial. In fact, you could be charged with an offence under the Civil Aviation Act, attracting a fine up to NZD $30,000. Additionally, if you operate your drone in a reckless or negligent manner, you may face a fine of up to NZD $2,500. Remember, these penalties are not just financial; serious violations may result in criminal charges and can have long-term impacts on your personal and professional life.

Tips for Safe and Responsible Drone Flying in New Zealand

To ensure a positive drone flying experience and comply with the regulations, here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

  1. Know the Rules: Familiarize yourself with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Part 101, the framework of rules for drone usage in New Zealand, to ensure legal and safe operation.
  2. Avoid No-Fly Zones: Always check and respect designated No-Fly Zones, including areas near airports, helipads, or densely populated regions to prevent accidents and legal issues.
  3. Maintain Visual Line of Sight: Keep your drone within your visual line of sight at all times, to manage its flight path effectively and avoid potential hazards.
  4. Respect Privacy: Always obtain permission before flying a drone over private property to respect others’ privacy and avoid potential legal complications.
  5. Check Weather Conditions: Ensure the weather conditions are suitable for drone operations. High winds, heavy rain, or low visibility can make flying unsafe and challenging.


Can I Fly My Drone at Night in New Zealand?

Yes, you can fly your drone at night in New Zealand. However, it’s essential to maintain visual contact with the drone, follow safety measures, and respect privacy laws. Ensure you adhere to the Civil Aviation Authority’s regulations for drone operation.

Can You Bring a Drone to New Zealand?

Yes, you can bring a drone to New Zealand. However, drone flying is regulated by New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority. You must comply with their rules and regulations to ensure safe and legal drone operation.

Do I Need a License or Permit to Fly a Drone in New Zealand?

Yes, you do need a license or permit to fly a drone in New Zealand. Depending on your drone’s purpose (recreational or commercial) and flight location, you may require certification from the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand.


Before you launch your drone into the New Zealand skies, it’s crucial to understand the area’s drone laws and regulations.

This applies not only to New Zealand but also to other destinations around the world. For example, if you’re heading to Bixby Bridge, it’s important to know the specific rules and guidelines for drone flying there. Similarly, if you have dreams of capturing breathtaking footage of Colorado State Parks or exploring drone opportunities around Eiffel Tower, it’s essential to be aware of the local drone regulations in those locations as well.

Drone laws are subject to change, and information in this blog may become outdated; always consult official sources for the latest regulations.

So, whether you’re planning a leisurely flight or engaging in commercial drone operations, make sure to fly responsibly, and stay informed.

Resources and Further Information:

Photo of author
Peter Karanja is a licensed drone pilot from Kenya, freelance writer and drone enthusiast. He has been using drones for land survey, GIS, and photography for the past three years. Being a drone user, he loves writing about drone applications, safety tips for using drones, and the best ways to get the most out of a drone.

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