Drone flights

Rules and guidelines

Flying  Drones and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has introduced rules for the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS).

The term RPAS includes drones and model aircraft, which are also commonly referred to as Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs) and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). 

The CAA rules require that any operator of RPAS must:

  • obtain the consent from anyone the operator will fly above
  • obtain the consent of the property owner or person in charge of the area the operator wishes to fly above.

Operating a Drone / RPAS over Council property 

Any person seeking to operate a Drone / RPAS over Council property (including parks, playgrounds, sports grounds, reserves, roads) must obtain the permission of Council. This process is free of charge, quick and simple.

Request permission to operate a drone

Step 1.Complete Request Form

Download and complete the request form.

Please be aware that we cannot provide overall blanket authority for Drone/RPAS use, so requests must be for specific dates only.

Drone request form(PDF, 68KB)

Step 2.Submit request

Email the form and supporting information requirements to Council for processing.

Further information may be required to enable Council to process your application. We will contact you if this is the case.

Send to: mailroom@wdc.govt.nz

We will endeavour to process your request as soon as practicable - this may be up to 5 working days.

Step 3.Receive notification 

An application may be granted or refused by Council and may be subject to any conditions that the Council deem necessary to ensure safety to the public, property and wildlife and the prevention of nuisance.

Any approval to operate a RPA over WDC land is subject to the Code of Conduct.  This requires the operator’s agreement to not undertake any of the following activities:

  • operate a RPA over a sports field if it is in use 
  • operate a RPA over a playground, parked vehicles or roads
  • operate a RPA within 20 metres of or over other users of the public space, unless you hold their prior consent
  • operate a RPA within 50 metres of livestock, sensitive wildlife habitats such as wetlands, or nesting or roosting birds
  • operate a RPA within 20 metres of or fly over park buildings and overhead wires
  • operate a RPA over dry flammable vegetation
  • operate a RPA over adjoining private properties (unless you hold the prior written agreement of the property owner)
  • operate a RPA in a Council cemetery.

The Operator of any RPAS shall agree to:

  • be courteous of other members of the public
  • keep the craft in full view at all times. (e.g. not operated through binoculars, video monitor or smartphones, unless an observer is present)
  • fly in daylight hours only
  • cease operation if requested by Council staff (or WDC contractor).

Applicants for permission to fly drones over Council property must be 16 years or over to apply for consent.

Consent can also be applied for by someone who is supervising a younger person operating a Drone, UAV or RPAS.

Under (Civil Aviation Authority) CAA rules, drones / RPAS are restricted from flying within 4km of any aerodrome, aerodrome control zones, Low Flying Zones, Military Operating Areas and restricted areas. It is important that operators familiarise themselves with these areas in Whangārei.

For details of these locations in Whangārei please refer to the maps on the Airshare website.

Airshare Maps

CAA Rules and Airshare Portal

It is important that RPAS/ Drone operators familiarise themselves with the CAA rules and requirements. A full copy of the CAA rules can be accessed via the CAA's website.

Civil Aviation Authority

The information portal 'Airshare' is also a useful resource for RPAS operators. Please consider registering with the Air Share Website.

This information helps CAA keep track of regular and non-regular UAV operators in each area.

Airshare portal

If you have concerns about a drone operation, you may make a complaint to Civil Aviation Authority:

Report a drone safety concern

If a drone flies above you or your property without permission and you feel your privacy has been breached, you can make a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner:

Make a privacy complaint

If there is an urgent risk to public safety, contact the police.