Have miles, will travel.

Drone Flying In New Zealand

How did you get such a great shot ? That view is to die for! How high was this picture taken from? These were questions that came to mind whenever I see pictures snapped from up above plastered over social media, including travel articles that I come across. Ahhhh, it’s taken with a drone. I longed to get one for myself since a few years ago, when I first laid eyes on the Phantom.

Next question was, which drone should  I get? There were tons to choose from ! My priority was making sure that it was portable & light, without much sacrifice to the quality of the picture/video. That narrowed it down to 2 options that were available at the market (back in February of 2017). The DJI Mavic Pro or the GoPro Karma? After much hesitation and a ton of research, i made the decision to go with the DJI Mavic Pro, before embarking to Middle-earth in the next 6 weeks.

With what limited practice I had back home, I was all set to go. I’m no expert, but keeping it under control was my top priority. I wasn’t going to let it drift off in the wind after loosing control (heaven forbid), or let a giant eagle snatch it out of the skies. 2 weeks before leaving, and after a little googling I came to realise that each specific country had their own set of drone laws people need to comply with. Thankfully this website I stumbled across called Airshare got me all set up for droning in New Zealand. All the tips for flying and laws that needed to be obeyed are categorically listed in this informative website. Drone owners have to apply for a sort of permit for each flight, every time a flight is about to take place. Also taking note of restricted zones and NFZ’s (no fly zones) around the country.

My first flight in beautiful New Zealand took place on the outskirts of Auckland on our drive to Hobbiton. The view was already amazing as we were driving by the highway, but the view from up above, gave me such a great perspective of the countryside.

Took a quick flight after having some coffee.
Onwards to Matamata ! Gandalf and Frodo awaits!

Initially my plan was to get my drone up and flying around Hobbiton, but unfortunately it is now designated as a no fly zone based on the park operators. Such a shame, would have gotten some great views I’d imagine.

Flying my Mavic Pro around Christchurch would probably be the highlight of my trip in terms of droning, as there were clear skies and a gorgeous sunset that accompanied me throughout the entire flight duration. New Brighton pier was just simply breathtaking. I would highly recommend anyone who’s thinking of flying a drone around the city, to head there. The only concern I had was the crazy howling winds which tested the hovering skills of the drone, but it put up a good fight.

Of sunset & shadows. Just chilling on the pier.
Makes me feel so small at times.
New Brighton pier extending out to sea. Looks like a giant pendulum.
Layers of the sea.
The coastline of Christchurch city. Golden hour light from sea to mountains, thanks to a low and glaring sunset.
The worlds best invisible selfie stick.

Here’s a video the wonderful time I had flying around New Brighton Pier that evening. Still lots of room for improvement in controlling the drone, but hey practice makes perfect right? It still brings a huge smile to my face whenever i replay this video. To more drone footages in the future! Better editing skills hopefully too.

The sleepy town of Franz Josef was where my 3rd flight took place. I really wanted to bring it to the foot of the glacier and fly it up, but alas the entire park surrounding the glacier is also a no fly zone as indicated by numerous signage, which was also mentioned by our walking guide. I had to make do with flying around the river nearby the small town.

Just under 80 meters up into the skies, and my Mavic stumbled upon low hanging clouds.
The Waiho river. Fuelled by melted ice water from the Franz Josef glacier.
Arteries of Franz Josef glacier.

Next stop, New Zealand’s adventure town, Queenstown. This was a tricky place for Airshare to approve my ‘permit’ but nevertheless, it was approved upon several conditions met, and i was glad it was. Set on a mountainous region, the texture of the landscape was varied with each shot I took with the drone. Before lurching on full babble mode, I’ll just let the pictures do the talking to show you how beautiful this place is.

An aerial view of Queenstown. Blue skies & sunny days. It really is as picture perfect as depicted on the postcards.
View of the Queenstown golf course.
Hovering over Queenstown Gardens.
Centre of town.
Heading back to the shores of lake Wakatipu.
Of crystal waters & wooden piers. Early morning flight, with my Mavic by lake Wakatipu.

Embarking on our road trip to Wanaka a couple of days after settling into Queenstown, we made an impromptu stop by Lake Hayes on our drive up north. Seemed only appropriate to take flight once more, to scout what views this lonesome gorgeous lake and surroundings had to offer from up above.

The mirror, Lake Hayes.
Houses by the lake.
Enjoying the view of lake Hayes one last time before we make a move.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get more shots in other places such as Milford Sounds and Wanaka due to bad weather and time constraints. Guess I’ll just have to return some day, to capture what I missed out on. It’s quite unbelievable at times, to find out things can look so different and beautiful from up above. Fly safe people.


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