An example of a no drone sign
Image: DOC | DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


A drone has been seized after it was flown above the Tongariro Alpine Crossing illegally.

Date:  25 February 2020

Drones are prohibited in Tongariro National Park and the operator ignored ‘no drone’ signs situated in the park.

Footage from the drone reviewed by DOC staff showed the drone flew near Mt Ngauruhoe and close to Emerald Lakes on Mt Tongariro.

The drone also passed over dozens of hikers who threw stones at it shortly before it crash-landed.

A DOC ranger located the drone near Emerald Lakes and waited for the operator, however, nobody came forward.

The following day the drone operator inquired at the Whakapapa Visitor Centre before leaving the country. 

Tongariro Operations Manager Connie Norgate says there are good reasons drones are not allowed within the Tongariro National Park.

“With helicopter operations taking place almost daily, drone use puts these aircraft and their pilots at risk.

“This incident also shows how they disturb other people’s privacy and quiet enjoyment of the outdoors”.

People seeing drones in Tongariro National Park are urged to report them to Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre:

Ms Norgate said while drones are not welcome in the national park, there are other places they are acceptable with caution.

“We regularly hear about near misses between drones and other aircraft around the country, and we remind drone owners that they are putting other people’s lives at risk when flying without a permit.”

Background information

Civil Aviation Authority regulations require operators of drones to obtain consent to fly over any property and if flying over public conservation land operators must obtain a permit from the Department of Conservation.

Find out more about drone use and permits on public conservation land.


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