How to fly your drone on D.O.C land in New Zealand

3 September 2017

Did you know that you needed a concession from the Department of Conservation (D.O.C) of New Zealand to fly your drone on their land? It's only a few months ago when I called the D.O.C to ask for permission to fly my drone in a location in the Golden Bay that I found out about it.

UPDATE - 21 November 2018 :
Since I first wrote this article some things have changed in the application process, the most important being that now if you apply for locations in different regions, you will have to pay the NZD50 fee for each region. So keep this in mind before submitting your application.
Some useful links have been added to the D.O.C website like a list of places they recommend you apply to use a drone 

Note :
I want to clarify that I did not write those lines with the intention of showing how perfect and responsible I am for following the rules. (After all, I was breaking them until I found out about it and applied for a concession) No, I wrote this post because I found it hard to come across information regarding applications for a D.O.C concession and wanted to help those who are planning on applying for one.

Now, let's jump into it.

The first thing you need to know is that you will have to apply for a concession that is the same as if you were applying for one to fly a tourist passenger airplane. It is quite surprising at first I agree but it is a temporary measure until D.O.C come up with a concession tailored for drone use. Someone at D.O.C told me they were hoping to have this ready in the next 6-8 months. Until then drones will be considered like regular aircraft on D.O.C land.

You will need to fill in two forms.

Form 1b - One-off process

In this form you will only need to enter your personal details and specify the nature of the activity you are applying for, which in our case is Aircraft activities (form 4c). You will also find a list of criterias that need to be met in order to be eligible for a one-off concession. If you do not meet all those criterias you will have to apply for a longer term concession. But don't worry, regular drone use will always easily meet the criterias.

If you intend to use your drone recreationaly you fall under the Personal recreation aircraft landings activity and the fee is $50 + GST.
Once you have filled that form, you can move on to the next one...

Form 4c - Aircraft activities

In this form you will have to describe your activity and get into details about its impacts wether positive or negative. The hardest part filling that form, I found, was to list the locations you were planning to fly from. This makes sense for a full size aircraft since it is unlikely that you will move it around so much, but for a drone it can be hard because it means you will need to list every places owned by D.O.C you think you'll go to for the next 3 months. So take some time to think about it because if you forget one, it will coast you another $50 to apply for another concession.

Following is just an example of what I put for my concession. Please note that it might differ for you.

List the locations where you are planning to take off / land.

List the impacts of your activity

Once you have filled those 2 forms and submitted them via email to a D.O.C office (c.f useful links) It will take about 5 working days for them to process your application and hopefully give you the green light.