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 landings at Milford Sound Aerodrome

We’re working to make sure aircraft concessions at Milford Sound/Piopiotahi Aerodrome are fair and consistent by consulting with existing operators and Ngāi Tahu.

Get more information on the review and how operations are affected

Aircraft are defined under the Civil Aviation Authority rules and include unmanned aircraft (also known as drones). See more information 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.

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

Apply for your concession

Delays in processing

We currently have a backlog of applications. We're working hard to prioritise older and urgent applications. If you have any concerns contact

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 aircraft, the fee you pay is $65 + GST, and you do not pay any ongoing fees.

Your application should be processed within 10 working days of receipt. The timeframe may be longer where iwi consultation is required. If your application is approved we will send you a contract which you must sign and return before proceeding with your activity

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 processing fee for a standard application for aircraft use is $2565 excluding GST ($2949.75 including GST). If your application is assessed as complex, covers multiple regions, or includes more than 20 individual locations, this fee is likely to be higher. We will send you an estimate of costs once we have received your application.

If you are applying for a concession for recreational use of a private aircraft (ie you are not receiving any commercial gains from the activity), we will discount the processing fee by 50%. Contact our Dunedin office if you would like to discuss whether this discount applies to you.

Your application should be processed within 55 working days of receipt for simple applications. It can be up to 120 working days if a hearing is required.

If your proposed activity has to be notified to the public because there are likely to be significant environmental effects 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 be required to pay ongoing concession and activity fees.

Additional applications

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


To use a drone on public conservation land for any reason, you need a concession from DOC. See Commercial drone use or Recreational drone use for more information about drone concessions. 

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:

Contact us

For more information or assistance with your concession contact the nearest of these DOC offices.

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