Filming with Drones* in Auckland

(*) Aka Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), UAVs or RPAs

This guide has been put together to assist film permit applicants get to grips with filming with a UAV/Drone in Auckland and what is or may be required. 

This is intended as a guideline summary only. We recommend anyone intending to use a drone for filming familiarises themselves with the full CAA rules and regulations before doing so.

New Zealand does have a reasonably open legislative framework governing the use of Drones but there are still some boundaries that need to be worked within.

The CAA introduced new rules on 1st August 2015. The major shift is stipulated in Part 101.207 which says a person operating a remotely piloted aircraft must avoid operating in airspace above persons who have not given consent for the aircraft to operate in that airspace; and "above property unless prior consent has been obtained from any persons occupying that property or the property owner."

Auckland Council Parks and Regional Parks, as well as CCO’s Auckland Transport and Panuku Development Auckland, have responded to this by providing conditions on which consent can be granted.

As with all aviation activity Part 101.13 states a UAV/Drone operator “must take all practicable steps to minimize hazards to persons, property and other aircraft.”

Things Production may need

  • A Drone operator with Public Liability insurance including an Aviation clause with Pilot and aircraft details listed
  • Working knowledge of CAA Rule Part 101 and the Airshare website
  • Evidence of operator’s Part 102 certification if intending to fly over the carriageway (roads and footpaths) or Motorways and State Highways

Part 101 vs Part 102

  • There are no exemptions to Part 101. CAA can provide a variance to certain operating rules in Part 101 based on the pilot qualifications and the work to be completed e.g. flying at night
  • Further FAQ’s have been answered by the CAA here

Filming with Drones in Auckland

1) Filming with a Drone in a Council-owned Park, Regional Park or on Beaches

  • This is the Production’s easiest option. If you qualify as Low Impact aside from the Drone and it’s under 1.5kgs, even better. Regional Parks are also pretty straight-forward at this impact scale but be prepared to work around the public and avoid filming on weekends
  • You will need a Film Permit which carries a minimum fee. We also ask that Public Liability insurance including an Aviation clause to minimum $1M cover with Pilot and aircraft details listed is provided
  • Auckland Council’s rules and guidelines for flying Drones can be found here

2) Filming with a Drone over the carriageway (roads and footpaths) or Motorways and State Highways

Production will need an Operator with;

  • Public Liability insurance including an Aviation clause to minimum $2M cover with Pilot and aircraft details listed
  • Pilot details
  • Evidence of Part 102 certification
  • A Traffic Management Plan (TMP)
  • A Hazard Management Plan (an example is available in the CAA 102 explanatory notes guidelines)
  • Evidence of safety assessments before and after flights
  • Maps of the location/address of proposed flight including flight details

Further information on flying a drone over Auckland’s road corridor can be found here

3) Filming with a Drone in or on an Auckland Transport car park building.

  • As per (2) but with additional Health & Safety and indemnity documentation required
  • Appropriate signage notifying public of the Drone use

4) Filming with a Drone in the Wynyard Quarter area including Silo Park, North Wharf, Halsey Wharf and Karanga Plaza

  • Public Liability insurance including an Aviation clause to minimum $10M cover with Pilot and aircraft details listed
  • Evidence of Part 102 certification
  • A robust and approved Health & Safety plan that includes the safe retrieval of the drone in the event of a loss of signal or an emergency landing, such as a parachute system or an automated emergency landing procedure”
  • Appropriate signage notifying public of the Drone use

5) Filming with a Drone in a residential area

  • No unpermitted Drone operations in residential areas between 10pm and 7am in lieu of District Plan rules around noise
  • A letter drop may be a good idea here – production must apply to Screen Auckland for oversight

6) Filming with a Drone over Private Property (e.g. inside AFS, Woodhill Forest)

Go for gold, just follow Part 101 and you will want to make sure Production are adequately covered liability-wise too.

7) Filming with a Drone within 4km of an uncontrolled Aerodrome

Part 101 requires an Operator gain the agreement of an Aerodrome operator if operating within 4km of that Aerodrome (It could be worse - the limit is 8km in the U.S.). There are four uncontrolled Aerodromes in the CBD area: the waterdrome at Wynyard Quarter, two hospital Heli pads and Mechanics Bay. Part 102 holders can notify their operations in lieu of getting an agreement but CAA still have a clause for Part 102 holders to contact the operators and discuss the operation prior to commencing.

NOTE: for rules on controlled aerodromes, please refer to the CAA Rule Part 101.205

Mechanics Bay aerodrome

  • Mechanics Bay is operated by Helilink, a Helicopter operation
  • The 4km limit from Mechanics Bay extends from the Harbour Bridge to Kelly Tarltons
  • Helilink manage the Police and Westpac Rescue movements from the Aerodrome as well as their own commercial operations
  • Amongst this activity, commercial Helicopter pilots, particularly those sitting advanced flight tests such as Flight Crew Competency Checking (FCCC) or Biennial Flight Review (BFR) will negotiate movements to/from the Aerodrome

With this in mind the Drone operator may find a shielded operation* is the best solution to enable operation within the 4km limit of this aerodrome. This allows for an operator to fly without agreement from the Aerodrome operator/s within 4km of the area they intend to fly. An email to the operator/s with a copy of your Airshare flight details is a suggested courtesy here
(*) Shielded operation means an operation of an aircraft within 100 m of, and below the top of, a natural or man-made object.

Map showing 4km limit of aerodromes in central Auckland



Further to this you may or not be aware that Drones operate on the 2.4Ghz wavelength (also known as WiFi), there’s some debate about how much interference plays a part in disrupting the signal to Drones however;

  • Some diversity systems are better than others (think rapid fire signal flickers)
  • Some controllers have bigger outputs than others (as an example DJI uses 800mw radios)
  • Some areas of the CBD may have stronger areas of WiFi interference than others, it has been suggested that Aotea Square, Wynyard Quarter, Fort Street and areas around the Ports of Auckland fall into this category

A final note on Privacy

  • There was a complaint to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner in 2015 involving Sky TV’s broadcast of an international Cricket game. The Production’s operator should have a good understanding of this case
  • Drone footage is covered under current CCTV legislation. More details here: