Skip to main content

Flying Drones on Council Parks - Interim Guideline

Adopted by Council, 1 October 2015


New rules introduced by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on 1 August 2015 prohibit people flying Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), i.e. ‘drones’, over private land without the owner’s permission. ‘Private land’ includes all land owned or administered by the Council.

The CCA has set general rules around the operation of drones, including height and control. There are financial penalties for breaches of these rules. Special requirements apply for controlled airspace. This affects the south-west part of the Rangitikei, from Marton to the coast: this area falls within the Ohakea airspace, administered by Air Traffic Control at the RNZAF Ohakea Base.

A policy will be developed in conjunction with RNZAF Ohakea and consulted on. This may be associated with an amendment to the Public Places Bylaw 2013. In the meantime, this interim guideline is being issued, to authorise those people who wish to fly drones on Council parks, to do so.


This interim guideline covers all electric powered remote controlled model aircraft of the type commonly referred to as “drones” that are capable of vertical take-off and landing and small hand-launched gliders less than 1.5m wing span.

The guideline excludes the following:

  • fixed wing electric-powered model aircraft greater than 1m wing span
  • all fixed- winged model aircraft that are internal combustion engine (petrol) powered.
  • gliders greater than 1.5 m wing span and bungee-launched gliders
  • single rotor helicopters that are electric powered or internal combustion engine
  • (petrol) powered
  • jet powered models

The guideline relates to Council-owned or administered parks only. A location map will be associated with the guideline. All cemeteries are excluded, as are all roads (including those within any park) and road reserves.

The interim guideline has three parts:

A In-principle approval to use Council parks for flying drones – whole-of-District

  1. Flyers are permitted to use any park owned or administered by the Council (this does not include the sports field at Ratana Paa, as this is not owned or administered by Council).
  2. This permission constitutes authorisation in terms of clause 6(1)(l) of Council’s Public Places Bylaw (except with the prior permission of the Council or an authorised officer a person shall not on any public place fly from or land any aeroplane including model aeroplanes, a hot air balloon or hang glider, parachutes or similar, except in an emergency. Adopted by Council, 1 October 2015) but there remains the obligation under clause 6(1)(n), not to conduct any activity, including the playing of any game recklessly or in a manner which may intimidate, be dangerous or injurious or cause a nuisance to persons in the public place, or damage the public place.
  3. Flyers will be expected to comply with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner guidance on preserving people’s personal privacy by not flying over other people using the park or over adjoining private property.
  4. Flyers will be expected to comply with the following code:
  1. Be courteous of other park users, who often have visited the park for the quiet enjoyment of the park;
  2. Do not fly:
    • over any parked vehicles or roads,
    • over a sports field if in use by others,
    • within of 20 metres of or over other users of the park (including other flyers of drones) or livestock,
    • within 20 metres of or be flown over a park building,
    • within 20 metres of overhead electrical lines,
    • during a fire ban period, or
    • over adjoining private property;
  3. Cease operation if requested by a member of the public or Council staff.

B Adherence to Civil Aviation Authority requirements – whole-of-District

The requirements are set out in Rule Part 101. The basic requirements are that drones:

  1. must not be flown above 120 metres,
  2. must remain within the line of sight of the operator (without the aid of any device such as binoculars or mobile phones),
  3. must not be flown within 4 km of any aerodrome, and
  4. must be flown in daylight hours only.

C Specific authorisation from Ohakea Air Traffic Control - Marton, Bulls, Scotts Ferry, Koitiata, Ratana, Whangaehu, Turakina

  1. Anyone wishing to fly drones on Council parks in these locations must seek prior authorisation from Ohakea Air Traffic Control. This may be subject to amendment or withdrawal at any time because of aircraft movements in and out of the Base.
  2. Council intends to develop a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate these authorisations.