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What are the rules around Drone Fishing in NZ?

This is a great question, and those who are new to drone fishing will probably know very little about some of the important points about using your drone. Never fear, we are here to help! Read on…

Number of Hooks

One of the big questions we are often asked, is can i carry a full longline (25x baited hooks) with my drone? The short answer is YES you can, however the rig is then treated as a beach launched longline, which then means that you are required by NZ law to attach a floating bouy (named with the owners details) to the outer end of the backbone. Having said this, many Kiwi fishos are now instead opting for far less than 25x baited hooks & therefore use a standard rod and reel. New Zealand law also states that IF you are carrying any more than 7x baited hooks, its just the same as the requirement above for 25X hooks, so you have to have named bouys.

In our opinion no-one needs to fish with any more than seven hooks, and in most cases we actually fish with about five. This also means if you get a couple of large fish on and once, your fishing tackle (including the rod and reel) can actually handle it.

Overall rules around the use of drones in New Zealand

There are also a number of rules around the use of any drone in New Zealand (including Fishing drones). These rules are administered by the NZ CAA (which are involved with all things aviation in NZ), and a link to their website can be found here.

Some of the important rules that you need to know as a Kiwi Drone Fisherman include:

  1. Do not fly at night
  2. Do not fly within 4km of an airport
  3. Do not fly over other peoples property without their consent
  4. Do not fly over other people without their consent
  5. Do not fly over 120 metres high
  6. Your drone must always remain in line of site (so must always be visible to the pilot)
  7. If you are outside of 4km from an airport, you might still be in a aircraft flight path, therefore you will need clearance to fly in these areas (and the distance you can fly will be more limited).
  8. Always keep an eye out for aircraft or helicopters and remember to ALWAYS give way to them. In many cases simply bringing your drone down to the ground until the aircraft as gone is the best course of action.


Another point about flying in New Zealand airspace, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with areas around New Zealand and where you can and can’t fly. AIRSHARE is a great resource for doing this. This website is based around a map of the country and highlites where you should or shouldn’t fly. It also has a great way for you to register your drone flight also. It has a handy APP that you can download to your phone, so you can easily get quick information while on the beach.

Local Councils and Department of Conservation

Outside of these general rules, local councils and the Department of Conservation also dictate where you can fly your drone, for example some local parks might not allow you to fly your drone, and also to fly in a regional park you also have to get permission from the Department of Conservation. if you are unsure as to whether you can fly at a local park, then best to contact your local council and they will point you in the right direction.

Luckily, there are still plenty of beaches that you can fly your fishing drone up and down the country, so this should not be a big concern for new drone fishermen.

Bag limits and fish sizes

If you are going to take fish anywhere around New Zealand, it’s important to adhere the bad limits and sizes of fish for the particular species you are targeting. Both of these points vary depending on what coast you are on, and what fish you are catching, so it always pays to be aware of this and also carry a measuring device while you are out on the beach. As a rule of thumb, only take what fish you need and no more.

As long as you keep to the above rules, you are generally free to go drone fishing in New Zealand. It’s really important to respect the people and locals around you while out flying your fishing drone. Remember people around you might not be as passionate about fishing drones as you might be, so be aware of this and be courteous to others.

Please note that all our articles are put together by our team and should not be replicated or plagiarised in any way without express written permission.

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