"Extremely ignorant" foreign tourists are putting aircraft at risk by using drones in no-fly zones in New Zealand.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which is responsible for aviation safety, is working with Air New Zealand to produce an inflight video aimed at educating foreign tourists about how to use drones safely while on holiday here.

"There are particular tourist groups we're aware of where drones are the latest technology," CAA deputy chief executive John Kay told a parliamentary committee today.

"They pick them up in duty free and want to play with them in a country they've come to for its natural intrinsic beauty."


"Some of the more problematic uses we've seen, for example at the glaciers down south and the heliports, have been largely foreign tourists who have bought their drones in and have been extremely ignorant of the safety requirements," Kay said.

"Our view is, if that's a safety risk, irrespective of the numbers, then it's appropriate for us to find some way of making them aware of what good practice is, what safe use is in the New Zealand context."

The CAA was working with Air New Zealand to develop an in-flight video about safe drone-flying practice.

"Working with Air New Zealand, and Air New Zealand is very willing to work with us on that matter, seems to us to be a reasonable thing to do if that has a way of metering out a particular risk to a reasonable extent."

Kay, along with CAA chairman Nigel Gould, was at Parliament to brief MPs on safe drone use.

Air New Zealand spokeswoman Hannah Searle said the educational video would be similar to one about safe driving in New Zealand that had been running on its inflight entertainment system since 2015.

Last month a tourist was given a formal warning by police after flying a drone in the flight path of helicopters in Fox Glacier Valley.

Police said the man had been flying the drone directly over the landing pads at Glacier Country Heliport.


In March, Air New Zealand called for tighter regulations around drone use after one came within 5m of an international flight carrying nearly 300 people as it came in to land at Auckland International Airport.

A CAA spokeswoman said there had been 13 reported incidents involving tourists since 2016, out of an overall total of around 550 incidents.

"While those numbers are low, they are on the more serious scale.

"And we strongly suspect other reported incidents would have involved tourists, given the location they occurred in for example, but that particular information wasn't included in the report to us," the spokeswoman said.