Rules and guidelines for flying UAVs and drones
Casual use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones is allowed in most public spaces and parks managed by Auckland Council, as long as you follow the rules and guidelines.
UAVs covered by the rules
Model aircraft, drones and other UAVs which can be flown without a permit in public areas include:
- Electric-powered, remote-controlled drones capable of vertical take-off and landing, remote-controlled fixed-wing model aircraft with a wingspan under two metres and electric fan jet-powered models, weighing less than 1.5kg
- Bungee or winch-launched aircraft with a tow line 15m or under
UAVs that don’t meet these criteria can only be flown on private property, officially recognised public flying sites or sites under the control of an approved operator. This includes:
- Fixed- wing, electric-powered model aircraft with wing spans above two metres, or jet-powered models, weighing more than 1.5kg
- Fixed- winged model aircraft or single-rotor helicopters with an internal combustion engine (i.e. petrol-powered)
- Bungee or winch-launched aircraft with a tow line longer than 15m
- Electric-powered, single-rotor helicopters weighing more than 1.5kg, or with a rotor span greater than 0.5m
UAV code of conduct
Users of UAVs need to follow the Civil Aviation Authority rules on the use of UAVs. The Auckland Council Public Safety and Nuisance Bylaw 2013 states flyers must not use their UAV “recklessly or in a manner which may intimidate, be dangerous, be injurious to or cause a nuisance to any person”.
In addition to these rules, when flying in a public space or over a beach, you should adhere to the code of conduct.
- fly a drone over a sports field if it’s in use
- operate over parked vehicles or park roads
- operate within of 20 metres of or be flown over other users of the park
- fly over or within 50 metres of livestock on parks, sensitive wildlife habitats such as wetlands, or nesting or roosting birds
- operate within 20 metres of or fly over park buildings and overhead wires
- operate over dry flammable vegetation
- fly over adjoining private properties.
- be courteous of other park users, beachgoers and people walking dogs
- keep the UAV in full view at all times (e.g. not operated through binoculars, video monitor or smartphone, unless an observer is present)
- fly in daylight hours only
- cease operation if requested by council staff.
Any breaches of the code of conduct could result in the council terminating your permission to fly UAVs on public land.
Places to fly your UAV
You can fly your UAV in most parks and public spaces around Auckland without a permit. For more information about UAV use in Auckland parks, contact us on 09 301 0101.
Casual use is prohibited at:
- Council cemeteries, Auckland Botanic Gardens, designated dog areas, Auckland Zoo – contact us on 09 301 0101.
- Mt Smart Stadium, QBE Stadium, Western Springs or Aotea Square – contact Regional Facilities Auckland.
- Cornwall Park - contact the Cornwall Park Trust.
If you want to fly over privately owned property, you need the property owner’s permission.
Flying over conservation lands and waters requires a concession or authorisation from the Department of Conservation (DOC). See the Department of Conservation website for more details.
Some parts of Auckland are designated controlled airspace by the Civil Aviation Authority. In these areas you can only fly UAVs below the height of a nearby tree or structure, no further than 100m away. A map showing controlled airspace is available on the Airshare website.
In uncontrolled airspace, drones cannot be flown above a height of 120m.
Auckland Transport is developing its own guidelines for flying over roads, footpaths, car park buildings and near public transport vehicles or terminals. These will be in place by early 2016. Until then,avoid flying in those areas.
You need a permit to fly UAVs over public space or maunga for commercial purposes, including:
- film and television productions, including documentaries, TV shows and music videos
- videos for the web
- student films.
Contact Screen Auckland for information on getting a permit and the costs.
Filming for personal and non-commercial use, such as a wedding video, birthday parties and building inspections, does not require a permit.
Drone shoots by real estate companies should take off and land on private property.
Complaints about UAVs and UAV operators
If a drone operator has breached the Auckland Council Public Safety and Nuisance Bylaw 2013 or the code of conduct, phone us on 09 301 0101.
If a drone flies above your property without permission or you feel your privacy has been breached, you can make a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner or the Civil Aviation Authority.
If there is an urgent risk to public safety, contact the police.
Any breaches of civil aviation rules must be referred to the Civil Aviation Authority.