Introduction

Aircraft activities on or over public conservation lands and waters must have a concession or authorisation from DOC. This includes both commercial operations and private recreational activities.

Aircraft are defined under the Civil Aviation Authority rules and include unmanned aircraft (UAVs/UAS/RPAS/drones) – see below.

Activities that could trigger the requirement for a concession including hovering.

Find out what concession you will need and how to apply for one – see below.

In some areas you will also need noise abatement certification – see below.

Note that Wild animal recovery operations (WARO) and aerially assisted trophy hunting (AATH) are not covered in this section.

If you wish to use a private aircraft for personal recreational use, you will also need a concession. There are discounted fees for these activities if you are using a designated landing site or a site where DOC is comfortable that the effects are well understood.

Pre-application meeting

Applying for a concession for the first time can be a little tricky. To ensure your application goes smoothly we offer a free pre-application meeting. We’ll also help you contact the local iwi to assess whether your proposed activity will have any cultural effects.

Type of concession

Depending on what you want to do and when and how you want to do it, you will either need a one-off concession or a longer term concession. 

  • One-off concession – as well as complying with all relevant legislation and conservation plans or strategies your planned activity must:
    • have only minor environmental effects that can easily be managed
    • have clearly defined limits (ie number of landings)
    • not involve permanent structures
    • not take place in the same location more than once in any three year period.

  • Longer term concession – for aircraft activities for up to 10 years.

Our brochure Visiting New Zealand’s conservation land (PDF, 816K) also has information for commercial tour operators, coach companies and guides who may be eligible for a ‘national concession’ if they are a member of the tourism association groups that have a national concession with DOC.

Your DOC advisor will advise you what concession you will need in your pre application meeting.

Apply for your concession

Follow the relevant process below for your aircraft activity. There are additional applications you will need to make if your activity involves anything outside of aircraft activities, such as water transport or land based guiding activities.

One-off activity

Identify the name and status of the public conservation land you wish to use by checking DOC maps.

We will invoice you once we have processed your application. Your fee is likely to be $130 plus GST ($146.50 including GST) unless you are using a private aircraft (as described above). For private aircrafts, the fee you pay is $50 + GST, and you do not pay any ongoing fees.

Your application should be processed within five working days of receipt. If your application is approved we will send you a contract which you must sign and return before proceeding with your activity.

You will also be required to pay ongoing concession fees.

Longer term activity

Identify the name and status of the public conservation land you wish to use by checking DOC maps.

We will invoice you once we have processed your application. The fee for a standard application is likely to be $1540 plus GST ($1771 inc GST). Your application should be processed within 45 working days of receipt for simple applications (up to 65 working days for complex applications). Note that this fee will generally be discounted by 50% if you are using a private aircraft (as described above).

Your application may be considered complex if it needs an in depth assessment of the environmental effects. For example applications for multiple sites/activities, unusual activities or sensitive locations. In this case you will be provided with an estimated cost and timeframe after you have submitted your application. 

If your proposed activity has to be notified to the public because there are likely to be significant environmental affects over the duration of your activity your fee will include the cost of public notification and hearings. We will provide an estimate of the likely application processing time and cost when your application is received.

If your application is approved we will send you a contract which you must sign and return before proceeding with your activity.

You will also be required to pay ongoing concession fees unless you are using a private aircraft (as described above) when the activity fees are waived and the management fees are discounted by 50%.

Additional applications

If your aircraft activity involves one of the activities below you must also fill in the relevant form for that activity.

Unmanned aircraft (UAVs/UAS/RPAS/drones)

All commercial use of unmanned aircraft including Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) or drones over conservation lands and waters requires a concession from DOC. Recreational use requires either a concession or authorisation from DOC. You can check with the local DOC office to see which applies to you.  

The concession/authorisation process enables DOC to monitor and manage the effects of activities on public conservation lands and waters. For unmanned aircraft, some of the effects that are often raised as potential concerns are:

  • the disturbance they may cause to wildlife and other users of the land
  • the risk of fire caused by a potential crash
  • the effect on public safety, and 
  • the safety of operating in spaces occupied by other aircraft and helicopters.

It is important you follow the rules and guidelines set by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for operating aircraft safely – see the CAA website for more information. 

Noise abatement certification

DOC has worked with the aviation industry to create noise abatement processes to manage the effect of aircraft noise on other users of public conservation land.

Aircraft operators are required to hold noise abatement certification in these locations:

  • Aorak /Mount Cook National Park: Hooker and Tasman valleys
  • Westland National Park: Glacier valleys
  • Fiordland National Park: Milford Sound, Milford Track, Routeburn Track, Hollyford Valley, Greenstone and Caples Valley, Gertrude Saddle.

Providers of noise abatement certification are the Aviation Industry Association, Qualmark and the NZ Aviation Industry Group.

Contact us

For more information or assistance with your aircraft activity concession contact our Dunedin office.


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