Flying drones in parks and reserves


Find out where you can and can't fly drones in Palmerston North, if you need permission, and where to log your flight path.

Flying is always about safety first and that includes drones. Drone pilots must follow New Zealand Civil Aviation rules to keep people and property safe.

Most of our city's urban areas, including parks and reserves, are in a controlled airspace. That is, airspace managed by Air Traffic Control because it's close to important flight paths.

You need clearance from Air Traffic Control before you can fly your drone in controlled airspace. You can request this authorisation through the AirShare website.

No matter where you fly your drone, you need to follow Civil Aviation rules.

Parks UAV Drone Policy 2015(PDF, 963KB)

This policy will be reviewed in 2023-24.

If you have any questions, or to apply for permission to fly a drone over Council parks and reserves, please email Tracey Murrow in our Parks Management Office:

Learn the rules, request permission and log your flight path on AirShare

AirShare is the UAV hub for New Zealand. Go to the AirShare website to learn how to operate your drone safely, plan all your UAV flights, and request access to controlled airspace.

Shielded operations

In some of our parks, low level flying is allowed without getting clearance from air traffic control. To be a shielded operation, you must be flying your drone within 100m of an object like a building or a tree. You must also fly below the height of that object. However, you still have to log your flight plan.

Flying in parks outside the controlled airspace

Some of our parks are outside controlled airspaces, so you don't need air traffic control clearance. Council permission is given to fly in these parks as long as you follow the general CAA rules, including logging your flight. You must also stay at least 25m away from boundaries, playgrounds and formed paths. Please take care around animals, particularly in areas where dogs are allowed off a leash.

  • Paneiri Park
  • Waitoetoe Park (be courteous and take care around dog walkers)
  • Atawhai Reserve
  • Summerhill Reserve
  • Adderstone Reserve
  • Anzac Park/Te Motu o Poutoa
  • Ashhurst reserves including the sportsfields at Ashhurst Domain (the rest of the domain is a no fly zone - see list of restricted parks in the next section for more information)

No fly zones

There are two categories of no fly zones in Palmerston North: prohibited and restricted. You need special permission from Council to fly a drone in these parks.

Prohibited parks

Flying drones at parks in the airport take-off and approach paths is prohibited. However, the Council will consider requests for permission case by case. Before you apply to the Council, you need clearance from air traffic control or a shielded operation exemption.

  • Linklater Reserve
  • Robert Reserve
  • Frederick Krull Reserve
  • Schnell Wetland Reserve
  • Leander Reserve
  • Jefferson Reserve
  • Kelvin Grove Cemetery
  • Parnell Heights Reserve
  • The unformed road reserve between Pepper Tree Glade and Masefield Terrace

Restricted parks

These are sensitive spaces. Casual flying is not permitted, though may be granted for special occasions or activities.

  • The Square
  • Central Energy Trust Arena
  • Victoria Esplanade
  • Any cemetery
  • Otira Reserve and Linton Domain
  • Ashhurst Domain campground, playground, cemetery, cafe or pony club spaces (you can fly a drone over the sportsfields)
  • Memorial Park - the passive recreation end with duckpond, playground and paddling pool (you can fly a drone over the sportsfields)

Vautier, Skoglund and Edwards Pit Parks: Hospital rescue helicopter operations

The Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter operates above or close to these parks, without notice, on its rescue missions. Any UAV or drone flying in these parks must take extreme care to obey the CAA rules for flying shielded.

All other parks

All other parks are considered suitable for flying as long as you follow some general PNCC rules and comply with Civil Aviation Authority rules. You must also stay at least 25m away from boundaries, playgrounds and formed paths. Please take care around animals, particularly in areas where dogs are allowed off a leash.