Drones flying unpermitted over a Hawke's Bay hot springs have raised the ire of the Department of Conservation.

DOC, which regulates the use of recreational and commercial drones over all public conservation land, is concerned about the use of drones over Mangatutu Hot Springs in the Kaweka Forest because it is close to helicopters flying into the Kaweka Forest Park.

DOC Hawke's Bay acting operations manager Carl Baker said the droners were first reported two weeks ago.

"There's the potential for a serious incident if a drone collides with aircraft."

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DOC is unsure why the drones were being used.

"We don't know whether it was a recreational user or someone who was using it potentially for a commercial purpose, like photography.

"But drone owners should be aware of the rules regarding drone use in New Zealand."

Baker said drones are becoming more popular around the country and as well as the safety risk, they can often be a nuisance.

Anyone wanting to operate a drone over conservation land or water needs to contact DOC and get permission.

Drone use is regulated on public conservation land for safety, the protection of wildlife, respecting cultural values, and to allow people to visit sites with minimal disturbance.

If you see inappropriate drone use, report it to your local DOC office or call the emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).