Introduction

Specific information about using drones in national parks.

You must have a concession from DOC to fly a drone (of any size) in National Parks, including for recreational (private use) and commercial purposes. 

All drone concession applications are considered on a case by case basis. A number of factors must be taken into account, including:

  • the views of whānau, hapū, and iwi on drone use at that location
  • the effects on conservation values, (influenced by things like the size of the drone and the frequency with which you want to fly it)
  • policies and provisions in the relevant national park management plan.

National park management plans stipulate what activities can take place in national parks. Some national parks have plans restricting the use of aircraft, including drones, across the entire park and as a result, drone concessions are unlikely to be approved in these national parks. Other plans specify particular areas of the national park where aircraft concessions may be granted, subject to the effects of the activity. 

We strongly recommend you be guided by the policies in the relevant National Park Management Plan when making your application to use a drone in a national park.

We have summarised this information to help you put together your drone application. See below for: 

If you would like to fly your drone in a public conservation area outside of a National Park see Areas we recommend you apply to fly a drone

See Commercial drone use or Recreational drone use for more information about applying to use a drone in a public conservation area.

Locations within national parks we recommend you apply to use a drone 

You will need to identify the specific landing sites or areas within the national park where you would like to fly your drone when submitting your application – be guided by the names of areas in the national parks listed below.

Refer to:

Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park 

We recommend you apply to use a drone within Aoraki Mount Cook National Park at Approved Aircraft Landing Sites only. These sites are identified in Tables 1-5 and shown on Figures 5 and 5a of the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park Management Plan.

Fiordland National Park

We recommend you apply to use a drone at the following sites in Fiordland National Park:

  • Cascade Campsite (excluding the Lake Gunn Nature Walk), between 10 am and 3 pm only
  • Eglington Valley (at least 200m from Milford Road), between 10 am and 3 pm only
  • Lake Gunn day use area.

We recommend you contact the Te Anau Office to discuss your application if you want to use a drone at any other sites in Fiordland National Park.  

Kahurangi National Park

The Kahurangi National Park Management Plan divides Kahurangi National Park into 4 aircraft landing zones (see page 129).

We recommend you contact the Nelson Office to discuss where you want to fly a drone in the Restricted and Frequent zones of the park before submitting your application. We do not recommend applying to use a drone within the Tasman Wilderness Area or the Remote zone.

Mount Aspiring National Park

We recommend you apply to use a drone in Mount Aspiring National Park at the Designated Sites listed in Table 1 (and shown on Map 3) of the Mount Aspiring National Park Management Plan only.

Some restrictions do apply, so we recommend you contact the Wanaka Office (Mt Aspiring National Park Visitor Centre) before applying to use a drone in Mount Aspiring National Park.

Paparoa National Park

The Paparoa National Park Management Plan  divides Paparoa National Park into three aircraft access zones for landings: red, yellow, and orange.

We recommend you contact the Greymouth Office to discuss where you want to fly a drone in the orange and yellow zones of the Park before submitting your application. We do not recommend you apply to use a drone in any red zones.

Rakiura National Park 

There are no specific landing zones in the Rakiura National Park Management Plan. We recommend contacting the Rakiura Office to discuss where you want to fly a drone before making an application.

Whanganui National Park

We recommend you apply to use a drone in Whanganui National Park at the specific sites listed in Appendix 4 of the Whanganui National Park Management Plan only. 

We will consult with whānau, hapū, and iwi as part of the standard application assessment process. This means the processing of your application will take at least 25 working days and will incur additional processing costs. We recommend you contact the Whanganui District Office to discuss consultation requirements before applying to use a drone at any of the identified sites in Whanganui National Park.

National parks we don’t recommend applying to fly a drone

Abel Tasman National Park

We do not recommend applying to use a drone in Abel Tasman National Park. The Abel Tasman National Park Management Plan states aircraft landings can only occur for essential management purposes or emergencies.

Arthur’s Pass National Park

We do not recommend applying to use a drone in Arthur’s Pass National Park. The Arthur’s Pass National Park Management Plan restricts aircraft taking-off and landing in the Park to specific purposes and circumstances.

Egmont National Park

We do not recommend applying to use a drone in Egmont National Park. The Egmont National Park Management Plan states applications for non-essential landing, take-off and hovering of aircraft will be discouraged.

Nelson Lakes National Park

We do not recommend applying to use a drone in Nelson Lakes National Park. The Nelson Lakes National Park Bylaws 2006 prohibit the take-off, landing, or hovering aircraft in the Park except for essential management purposes and emergency situations.

Tongariro National Park 

We do not recommend applying to use a drone in Tongariro National Park. The Tongariro National Park Management Plan states aircraft concession applications should be declined, except for emergencies and activities which benefit park management.

Westland Tai Poutini National Park

We do not recommend applying to use a drone in Westland Tai Poutini National Park. The Westland Tai Poutini National Park Management Plan restricts aircraft taking-off and landing in the Park to specific purposes and circumstances.

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