Drone use over houses in Levin has made some residents feel their privacy is being invaded and concerned the devices may also be used to scope properties as potential burglary targets.

Increased use of drones across the country has prompted similar concerns in other areas, with many people wondering what their privacy rights are if they spot a drone over their property.

A Levin woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said she felt unsettled when a drone appeared to be hovering over her garden while she was hanging out washing at her home in the Sussex St area recently.

"It was creepy, and [I'm] not sure if it belongs to [someone] a few houses down or not but it hovered even closer to their roof before taking off again," she said.

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"Once I finished hanging out my washing, I was back inside. I don't know if I'm paranoid or not, but it felt like I was being watched. Even though it could have just been a kid playing with it [it was] still creepy."

The woman said seeing the drone hovering over her garden made her decide to stay home instead of going out, just in case it was someone scoping the property with a view to burglary.

Another Levin resident said a drone had hovered over her property and her neighbour's home.

Tania Bell said she could see the person flying it standing in a park in the next street.

"I drove around to where he was and had him up about it," she said.

"He had his hoodie on and wouldn't turn around, so I walked in front of him and told him it's illegal and to stop and that I was going to call the cops. He told me that he had permission from the council, which I knew was bulls**t. I could clearly see ours and our neighbours backyards on his iPod, so he was having a good look around our properties."

Bell said she took photos of the back of the man and his car, in which she could see a woman hiding in the front seat.

"After I left he was quick to leave and I rang the police with all the information I had," she said.

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"I was wild as I knew it was illegal for him to fly it over our properties, and he was clearly checking them out because he had been hovering over them for quite a while before I drove around to confront him".

This drone operator in Levin was allegedly flying his device over properties. Photo / Tania Bell
This drone operator in Levin was allegedly flying his device over properties. Photo / Tania Bell

Another resident reported having a drone hovering right over her while she was also hanging washing, while another was recently spotted over Graham St.

Drones are actually considered to be aircraft under NZ Civil Aviation Authority rules and are not permitted to fly over private property without consent of the property or land owner.

Council permission is required to fly them over public reserves, while a permit is required to use drones over Department of Conservation land.

Drones must also be flown so they remain within eyesight of the operator at all times and not just visible on a phone or monitor screen or by using binoculars.

The NZ Police and CAA advise that they are working in partnership to respond to drone issues, with police tackling nuisance, noise or privacy concerns and the CAA investigating aviation safety issues.

A police statement said that in New Zealand, most complaints have involved drones flying over people or private property without permission and that both are prohibited under parts 101 and 102 of the Civil Aviation Act.

If a drone presents an immediate danger, including if a drone is believed to be used with criminal intent, the public are advised to call 111

For other concerns, call the police non-emergency number 105.

To report safety concerns with drones, residents can email isi@caa.govt.nz and provide the date, time and location of the incident.

If there are any identifying details for the drone operator, such as name and address if known, car registration, a photograph, a detailed description or any other information, these should also be included.

Penalties for flying a drone over people or property without their consent range from $500 to $2500.