Tourist crowds aren’t the only thing visiting Roys Peak this summer; since Christmas, Wānaka DOC office has received four reports of unauthorised drones on Roys Peak through their visitor centre and DOC hotline. Drone use over conservation land is prohibited, without the use of a permit, in compliance with Civil Aviation Authority regulations. These restrictions help to protect wildlife, respect cultural values, and allow people to visit sites with minimal disturbance.
According to senior ranger, Annette Grieve, DOC staff have interacted with visitors using drones on Roys Peak, tracks along the Haast highway and near backcountry huts in the national park in recent times. She says “Drones are a significant issue for conservation, with many unaware of the rules around using their drones over public conservation lands and waters or around wildlife.”
None of the unauthorised drone users have been fined, but instead asked to cease operating and informed of local restrictions. Once warned, drone users are wise enough not to attempt a second flight. “DOC has not dealt with any repeat and significant offenders in Wānaka this season,” says Grieves
If you are an avid drone user and want to capture some of Wānaka’s beauty, consider applying for a permit or check out recommended flight locations online. In the meantime, DOC asks that if you spot inappropriate drone use, to report it to your local DOC office or call the emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).