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February 2020 Issue
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Wanaka drone use on the rise

Drone users are regularly reported on Roys Peak, where drone flying is not permitted. Photo: Matthew Cattin

Drone operators are flying in the face of aviation laws in Wanaka.

Despite a local ban, three unauthorised drones have been reported to the DOC hotline at the popular Roys Peak Track since Christmas.

DOC staff have also interacted with drone operators flying near Siberia and Aspiring huts within Mt Aspiring National Park.

“I personally spoke to an operator behind the Wanaka visitor centre last week, in sight of a helipad,” senior ranger Annette Grieves said.

Due to high visitor use and the proximity to aircraft flight paths, recreational drone use is not permitted around Wanaka. Users need to get a permit to fly a drone in a national park and other conservation areas.

Drone use is managed by DOC field staff and signage – including signs at the beginning of the Rob Roy Track which are regularly ignored.

No fines have been issued, but drone users have received warnings to cease operating and have been informed of the restrictions.

Drones are a significant conservation issue for several reasons, Grieves said.

“This includes the protection of wildlife, respecting cultural values, and allowing people to visit sites with minimal disturbance,” she said.

“With more people out and about over summer, what we do matters more than ever for our natural environment.”