Drone Pic

Drone Use in the Bay

Information about filming using drones in the Bay of Plenty

A drone is a “Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)”.  They are also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)

It’s good to familiarise yourself with all the Civil Aviation Rules, but the two parts that relate directly to RPAS are:

Part 101 Operating Rules for RPAS (no certification required) 

Part 102 Unmanned Aircraft Operator Certification (for when certification required)

Part 91 General Operating and Flight Rules is handy to read too

PART 101

There are 12 key things that are required under Part 101 - you must:

  • not operate an aircraft that is 25 kg or larger and always ensure that it is safe to operate
  • at all times take all practicable steps to minimize hazards to persons, property and other aircraft (ie, don’t do anything hazardous)
  • fly only in daylight
  • give way to all crewed aircraft
  • be able to see the aircraft with your own eyes (eg, not through binoculars, a monitor, or smartphone) to ensure separation from other aircraft (or use an observer to do this in certain cases)
  • not fly your aircraft higher than 120 metres (400 feet) above ground level (unless certain conditions are met)
  • have knowledge of airspace restrictions that apply in the area you want to operate
  • not fly closer than four kilometres from any aerodrome (unless certain conditions are met)
  • when flying in controlled airspace, obtain an air traffic control clearance issued by Airways (via airshare My Flights
  • not fly in special use airspace without the permission of the controlling authority of the area (e.g. military operating areas or restricted areas)
  • have consent from anyone you want to fly above
  • have the consent of the property owner or person in charge of the area you are wanting to fly above.

This “Advisory Circular” explains well how the rules in part 101 are to be implemented


Part 102

Part 102 is for RPAS operators who do not meet the 12 key requirements in Part 101 (e.g. the RPAS is over 25kgs, the operator wants to fly at night, or within a controlled or uncontrolled airspace, etc.  Certification is required to operate outside of these 12 key requirements.

Here is the “Advisory Circular” explaining what Part 102 covers, and how to obtain certification



Each Council has rules around how people use drones in their city/district/region.  Some Councils give blanket consent without need for application (with a few conditions).  Others require you to apply for consent before it is granted.  Below are the links to the Council/DoC pages for drone use:

Whakatāne District

Ōpōtiki District

Taupō District Council

Kawerau District Council

Western Bay District Council

Tauranga City Council

Rotorua Lakes Council


DOC have recently updated their guidelines:  "Anyone using a drone over public conservation land, for any reason, must have a concession from DOC. Last edition we mentioned our new recreational drone use and commercial drone use pages with information for applicants. We have now also developed pages on Areas we recommend you apply to use a droneUsing a drone in National Parks (including information on which parks we recommend you apply), Drone safety and Flying your drone near birds and Marine mammals"

Department of Conservation (DOC)

DOC Map Viewer


Airshare is a great website where drone users can seek further information about using drones safely, and also check to see where there are controlled/uncontrolled airspaces… and users can also register their flight path! –   

Here's a link to the Airshare Map showing the airspace in NZ

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