Wild Kiwi’s Cheat Sheet To Photography And Drone Flying In New Zealand
Rugged coastline, endless rolling hills, and dramatic mountains; the varying natural landscape of New Zealand makes the entire place dreamily drone-able and incredibly photogenic. Meaning that, for anyone looking to rack up the likes on Instagram or get unique footage and imagery for a personal creative project, New Zealand is sure to deliver. And that’s before post-production!
However, there are laws surrounding drone flying in New Zealand. With the rise in popularity of drones, the Civil Aviation Authority has had to create regulations around the usage with people’s safety, animal welfare and the environment in mind. Which is why we’ve put together this useful post to outline the do’s and don’ts when drone flying in New Zealand. We’ve also included our top photography tips for anyone wanting to push their skills while travelling to make their own New Zealand photography tour – whether that’s with or without a drone.
The Do’s And Don’ts
Let’s start with the do’s and don’ts; here is the essential information you’ll need when flying drones in New Zealand:
- DON’T fly any higher than 120m/400ft.
- DO fly a drone which weighs under 25kg.
- DO ensure the drone is always in your line of sight, meaning that you can see the drone with your own eyes (for example not with the aid of binoculars or a monitor) or have a second person with you as an observer.
- DON’T fly any closer than 4km from any aerodrome.
- DON’T fly your drone at night. DO only fly your drone in daylight hours.
- DO get consent from any people you might be flying over. Some drone users seem to have disregard for other people’s privacy… don’t be that guy and be sure to spark up a conversation and ask permission before droning over people.
- DO obtain a permit from DOC. When flying over any DOC (Department of Conservation) land, you’ll need to obtain a permit which costs $50. And yes, that’s nearly all of the national parks… so if it’s the natural landscapes you’re after you will need a permit which you can apply for here.
- DON’T fly in a no-fly zone. You’ll need to take into account no-fly zones which are well documented on the Airshare website. Find a useful map showing where can and cannot fly a drone in New Zealand here.
- DON’T fly over farmland without permission. It’s worth noting that farmers have been known to play a little game of ‘shoot the drone’ even when it’s just close to their land and not directly over it. Kiwis and the Māori are extremely protective over their land and view drone flying as an intrusion of their property. Be sure to ask permission should you wish to fly a drone over farmland.
- DO find a comprehensive list of rules here.
Capture The Perfect Shot
When it comes to photography, all you require are a few tips to guide you on your creative way, whether that’s using a drone or a hand-held camera. And here’s the thing – lighting is everything! Make the concerted effort to rise before the gang at sunrise (or find someone who’s mad enough as you are to stumble out of bed early!) or enjoy your evening beer out in the open to make the most of the sky as the light begins to melt away.
Low light and bright sunlight offer challenging photo conditions, but use them in your favour to create a variety of moods. You might want to saturate your image with sunlight to give a warm, summer feeling or take the exposure down in dull lighting (for example in thunder clouds) to create an epic moody feel. Get creative and have a play around on your travels!
The Most Instagrammed Locations In New Zealand
Because we’re pretty sure you’ll be wanting to map these out onto your NZ bucket list, here are some of the dreamiest locations on IG plus the Wild Kiwi tours you’ll need to jump on to get yourself there too!
Location: Mount Cook National Park
Why: Dramatic landscape featuring lakes and mountains in the NZ Southern Alps.
Location: Milford Sound
Why: Crashing waterfalls, rugged cliffs and native NZ bush in Fiordland National Park.
Location: Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Why: Did you hear us say ‘glowworms’?
Location: Lake Tekapo
Why: Capture pretty lakeside lupins and the Church of the Good Shepherd which sits in picturesque solidarity on the shores of the lake.
Why: Journey into actual Middle-earth…!
Why: Epic coastline featuring secluded bays and pristine waters.