New Zealand is one of the world’s most beautiful and remote countries and is a paradise for aerial photography and drone video. The country has two main islands, the north and the south. We took a 16-day road trip across the island to capture some gorgeous footage of New Zealand’s stunning beauty (If you are planning to visit New Zealand to shoot footage of your own, a popular way to get around the country is to rent a camper-van equipped with small bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen to lower the cost of accommodations). This trip primarily includes the South Island, starting at Christchurch, looping to the south of the island, and then back through Christchurch again.
Agriculture & Farming
Sheep are a common sight across the country; in fact, there are tens of millions of them in the country and they outnumber people by a ratio of about 7:1! For 130 years, sheep farming was New Zealand’s primary agricultural industry before being overtaken by dairy farming in 1987. The aerial photo below captures a nadir shot of some of these furry beasts roaming free on one of the country’s thousands of sheep farms.
Drone Laws & Regulations
New Zealand regulators have followed the course of those in many other popular tourist destinations in the world by banning the use of drones near most landmarks. You will see no-drone signs very frequently throughout your trip and, just like in the U.S., flying a drone in national forest and national park area is strictly prohibited. Some of the locals people are also not always thrilled to see tourists flying drones community areas. As always and with everywhere, please be respectful of the local rules and regulations. If you are unable to use your drone for aerial photography, there are helicopter services throughout the country ready to assist you. So if you need to take aerial photo, you can definitely use their service and I highly recommend it.
Even though, the island was pretty small but I was impressed by the amount of variety of beautiful landscapes New Zealand has to offer. UNESCO has recognized many regions in New Zealand as World Heritage Sites, including Tongariro, Te Wahipounamu, and Subantarctic Islands. You will get to see beautiful landscape of glacier, rain forest, glaciers, and fjords.
During this trip in Fall in April, the wind in New Zealand was pretty strong especially near the coast and up in the mountain area. If you plan to fly far, make sure that you have enough battery left for your drone to make it back to you. Because this was a road trip, I packed the total of 3 batteries, which I thought wasn’t enough. Lucky enough, I brought along car charger that can come in handy if necessary. I always make sure that my battery is full before I left the hotel every morning as there are so many beautiful landscapes along the way that will make you pull your car over and capture the moment.
The trip took place in April, but it was already cold in some parts of the country. I got warning from my drone monitor saying that battery temperature was too cold to take off. I had to wait for a few minutes till my battery is warm enough to operate. One trick is that you might want to keep your gears inside the car and not the trunk to avoid this issue. Also keep in mind that any electronic device doesn’t operate very well when it’s very cold and the battery tends to drop very quickly too. And, of course, I’d recommend not flying too far if the weather is too crazy.
Another thing to be aware of is strong remote interference when you fly in town. At the time, I had a DJI Phantom 4 Pro, the screen went completely black when I lost signal. The drone was too far and out of sight. I had no idea about its status or whether it had already fell off or not. My only choice was the return home button and all I could do was to wait. Finally, within a few minutes of waiting, I was able to spot my drone and gained back the screen. I had to learn it the hard way and will always, from now on, check the remote connection before taking off.
Some of my favorite locations to fly were lake Pukaki, town of Wanaka, and literally almost every scenic lookout!
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