Recreational drone use
IntroductionYou must have a concession (permit) from DOC to fly a drone on public conservation land for any reason, including private and non-commercial use.
Aircraft are defined under the Civil Aviation Authority Rules.
All aircraft, including unmanned aircraft (drones), require a permission to land on, take off from, or hover over (collectively referred to as ‘landings’) public conservation lands and waters, other than for certain activities, such as: search and rescue; Departmental management purposes; emergency situations; maritime navigational-aid management; land survey work; aircraft operated by the New Zealand Defence Force or the Civil Aviation Authority; or any mining activity authorised under the Crown Minerals Act 1991.
If you're planning on using your drone for commercial gain, see commercial drone use.
Why you need a concession
A concession (permit) ensures we:
- protect the local wildlife
- respect Māori cultural values by involving hapū and iwi
- let others enjoy the outdoors too
- consider people’s privacy
- prevent accidents and interference by following Civil Aviation Authority rules
- follow relevant policies and plans.
Applying for a concession for the first time can be complicated. To help your application we offer a free pre-application meeting.
We’ll help you to:
- Understand the permission you will need to apply for.
- Navigate our statutory planning documents, so you can consider whether the activity you wish to undertake is consistent with them.
- Understand DOC’s responsibility to give effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, which requires consultation with Treaty Partners on most applications. If you wish, DOC can help you contact the local iwi, hapū, and whānau to assess whether your proposed activity will have any cultural effects. Often this consultation can enhance the activity you are considering.
Type of concession
A short term or one-off concession allows you to fly your drone for 3 months or less. To apply for a longer period, talk to your local DOC office.
Apply for your concession
1. Fill in the relevant forms
Location of activity
Your application may be returned if you do not identify the specific location by conservation area name. Use DOC Maps to identify the specific locations name.
If applicable, fill out and attach the recommended location form:
- Marlborough (PDF, 71K) or (Word, 62K)
- West Coast (PDF, 68K) or (Word, 61K)
- Canterbury (PDF, 123K) or (Word, 67K)
- Otago (PDF, 145K) or (Word, 60K)
If your application includes areas outside the recommended locations you must include the conservation area you want to access.
- Areas we recommend you apply to use a drone
- National parks we do not recommend you apply to use a drone in
No further drone permits can be issued within Fiordland National Park until further notice. The recreational drone permit allocation limit under the Fiordland National Park Management Plan 2007 has been reached.
2. Send us your application
Email the forms along with the relevant attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fees and processing time
It costs $65 excluding GST ($74.75 including GST) for each DOC region you apply to use your drone in. Use DOC Maps to identify where DOC region boundaries are.
One-off applications are generally processed in shorter timeframes, dependent on whether 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.
See How long it takes to process an application for more information on application timeframes.
For more information or assistance with your permission contact the nearest of these DOC offices.