Airspace for Unmanned Aircraft

Even launching a toy drone in your own backyard could unintentionally breach airspace law.

Airspace can be designated as either controlled airspace, or special use airspace. Controlled airspace is designated where there is a need for an air traffic control (ATC) service to be provided for the safety and efficiency of aircraft operations. Special use airspace includes restricted areas, military operating areas, mandatory broadcast zones, volcanic hazard zones, danger areas, and low flying zones.

To fly an unmanned aircraft in controlled airspace, you must have prior authorisation from ATC. You can request this authorisation via the airshare MyFlights online flight logging tool. An ATC authorisation is not required if you are able to conduct your flight as a shielded operation.

You will find controlled airspace around the airports in Auckland, Blenheim, Christchurch, Dunedin, Gisborne, Hamilton, Invercargill, Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth, Ohakea, Palmerston North, Queenstown, Rotorua, Tauranga, Wellington and Whenuapai.

Visual Navigation Charts

Maps showing the boundaries of controlled and other special use airspace, called Visual Navigation Charts (VNC), are available for purchase from the Aeronautical Information Shop. Alternatively, this information can be viewed electronically at airshare.