Drones are becoming very popular, with an increasing number of ways they can be used in teaching, research, gathering data, enhancing access to sites and to provide a unique perspective.

Drones are very exciting but because they do fly around, make a lot of noise and occasionally crash, there are rules we all have to follow. The following information is a guide to the use of drones and how you can use a drone at Lincoln University.

Some rules for using drones

Using a drone means taking responsibility for its operation and the ‘authorities’ have a set of rules that are applied to the use of drones in New Zealand. In particular the following CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) rules are very important to take note of: 

  • Aircraft must not exceed 25 kg MTOW, and must always be safe to operate 
  • Take all practicable steps to minimize hazards to persons, property and other aircraft (ie, don’t do anything hazardous) 
  • Fly only in daylight, unless conducting a shielded operation. Refer to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules. 
  • Give way to all crewed aircraft 
  • You must 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) 
  • Do 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 
  • Do 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. See the AirShare website. 
  • Do not fly in special use airspace without the permission of the administering authority of the area (eg, military operating areas or restricted areas) 
  • Get consent from anyone you want to fly above 
  • Get the consent of the property owner or person in charge of the area you are wanting to fly above – check with your local council or Department of Conservation before flying in public places like parks and reserves. 

We recommend having a good look at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Drones page to see what you can and cannot do with a drone in NZ.

Take particular note of the guidelines for getting consent to fly over people. This is a hot topic given the increased awareness of privacy issues and public safety. As such flights over large crowds may require a special consent from CAA. 

Flying a drone over Lincoln University property

If you would like to fly a drone over Lincoln University grounds the first thing you need to do is contact Lincworks to get permission for the flight. As Lincworks manage the university property they are the ‘people in charge’ as stipulated in the CAA rules. If you communicate the following information to Lincworks they will see if there are any conflicts with other drone users, onsite contractors or special university events: 

  • date and time of proposed drone flight 
  • proposed flight area or path 
  • type of drone to be used 
  • the drone operators name. 

Lincworks is very supportive of drone flights across the campus as long as people adhere to the CAA rules and provide them with a little notice. 

Lincworks contact: email, Phone +64 3 423 0820 

When wanting to fly a drone over Lincoln University farms and associated sites please get in touch with the respective farm/site manager and supply the same information as above. 

Wanting to fly a drone over the University? Call 03 4230824 or complete the form

Facilities Management Form

Flying a drone over other places

Basically everywhere you fly a drone you have to get permission from the land owner/manager. As a common courtesy ask them where you can and cannot fly. In some cases this is very easy and involves a quick discussion or request. However, there are a few places in NZ where you will have to do more than have a chat with someone. One such place is over Department of Conservation (DOC) land. DOC has a process in place to ensure public safety and manage public access to areas, and the use of drones comes into this. Have a look at drone use on conservation land on the DoC website to see what you can and cannot do with a drone over DOC land (this also includes how you operate a drone around birds and marine mammals). The DOC has a permit system for drone use that does have an associated cost, so please take note. 

In short, if you want to fly a drone somewhere, have a look into whether there are any regulations about that land (such as Iwi property, national parks, Roads NZ or local council). For example, in some areas you cannot fly a drone over a mountain, as it is considered tapu. Read about aircraft/drones on the Selwyn District Council website The following is another example from the Selwyn District Council.

Probably the most important consideration is to first ask yourself, where is the nearest airport? Flying a drone near an airport without authorisation is a big no-no. Thankfully there is a very helpful website that shows you where you can fly called AirShare