Drone use in the Western Bay

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​Western Bay of Plenty District Council permits the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) – commonly known as drones – on Council-owned land.

There are however strict conditions on the use of RPAS. They can be flown provided all Civil Aviation Authority Part 101 regulations are obeyed and that operation of the aircraft does not cause annoyance, hazard or inconvenience to other users of Council's reserves.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) introduced regulations for RPAS which came into effect on 1 August 2015.

A key driver in the development of these regulations is the rising number of RPAS and the associated safety and privacy issues that can arise from their use. 

Council is not responsible for setting and monitoring these rules but is required to give landowner permission for the use of the District's public land by RPAS operators.

View Council's Drones in the Western Bay brochure here.

What do RPAS include?

  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)
  • Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)
  • Remote controlled model aircraft
  • Drones

It is the operator's responsibility to ensure an understanding and compliance with the Civil Aviation Authority's Part 101 Regulations, even if flying recreationally.

You can find the regulations and further information at www.caa.govt.nz 

Operators need to consider whether they will be flying in a controlled airspace, or in an exclusion zone within 4km from an airport or airfield (including Waihi Beach airfield).

Restrictions in the Western Bay
Check out this map to see the current restrictions that apply in the Western Bay. 

Where applicable, operators will need to gain the necessary permissions from Air Traffic Control to comply with the CAA regulations.  

The Airshare website provides further information about operating your RPAS safely, planning your flights and requesting access to controlled airspace where applicable. It is highly recommended you check it out.

Do I need more permission?

Operators also need to respect the privacy of people using parks and reserves. The CAA regulations require operators to gain consent from any person that their craft may fly over.

This means operators of RPAS must engage with people in the vicinity of where they are using their craft and take reasonable steps to avoid flying over people (see CAA Advisory Circular AC101-1).

Operators need to manage this requirement if they intend to fly in areas where someone who has not given consent can appear beneath their operations (e.g. in a busy park).

If you have concerns about privacy issues relating to RPAS operations, you should contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner on 04 474 7595 or email enquiries@privacy.org.nz 

As the regulator of RPAS operations, the CAA is responsible for enforcing the regulations and investigating complaints related to safety.

The CAA can issue warnings and infringements for non-compliance, or prosecute operators committing serious offences.

If you would like more information about whether your operations meet the regulations, advice on how to plan a safe and legal flight, or if you are concerned that the regulations are being breached, please call the CAA on 04 560 9480, or email at info@caa.govt.nz .

Council has taken a permissive approach to the use of RPAS operations in the District. It considers this to be appropriate as there is currently no evidence of safety or privacy issues arising from RPAS operations in the District.

We intend this approach will be reconsidered as part of the review of the Reserves and Facilities Bylaw in 2017.

Where's best to fly?

Parks and reserves in the Western Bay considered the most suitable for the operation of drones are:

  • South End Reserve, Bowentown
  • Moore Park, Katikati
  • Tetley Road Landing Reserve, Katikati
  • Western Ave Sports Ground, Omokoroa
  • Maramatanga Park, Te Puna
  • Centennial Park, Te Puke
  • Lawrence Oliver Park, Te Puke
  • Paengaroa Domain
  • Midway Park, Pukehina
 There are active model aircraft clubs in the Western Bay.

The benefits of club memberships include access to members-only facilities and also the opportunity for further education about best practice flying.

Please see their websites below for further information:
Western Bay Model Flyers
Tauranga Model Aircraft Club

Page reviewed: 07 Dec 2015 11:25am