Drone Fishing in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide (2019 Update)

Thinking about giving drone fishing a crack, but not sure where to start?

Well you’re in luck my friend. Welcome to our “Drone Fishing in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide”, best part is we’ve updated the guide for 2019! Meaning this guide will give you all the up to date info you need as you dive into the fishy world of drone fishing.

Compared to other long line fishing methods such as using an electric Kontiki, which torpedos out into the water to cast your line, drones have an advantage of flying out to cast your line at even farther distances, give you more control, and a bird’s eye view of where the fish are. Better yet you’re saving squillions of dollars in fuel, unlike those suckers on the boat ramp.


Best Fishing Drones

Drone fishing is becoming so popular that drone companies have started to produce models and accessories specifically for it; as well as drones which can be modified to become fishing drones. Aside from the basic features of well-known quadcopters, these drones can come with or are equipped with bait release systems that can handle heavy payloads for accessories and your potential catch, and are built with waterproof bodies and cameras. It also has functions such as high accuracy GPS, auto hover, and automatic return home functions.

So, if you’re looking to take drone fishing even more seriously and need all of the features, functions, accessories and rigs you can get at the best value, here are some recommended fishing drone models:


  • Battery Life/Flight Time: 16 mins
  • Speed: 16 m/s
  • Range: 1.4 km
  • Payload Capacity: 1 kg
  • Camera: 720p and 4K

Notable Features

  • 100% Waterproof and Sea Water Friendly
  • Dedicated Fish Bait Dropper
  • Capable of carrying more than 10 hooks and baits at one line

The SplashDrone 3 Fisherman claims to be “The Most Serious Fishing Drone”. Purposely-built for fishing, the SplashDrone 3 Fisherman is 100% waterproof and salt-resistant and gives you the ability to view the water from above and below. It claims to have more power and stability to handle different types of weather and environments. It has an extended casting range of 1.4 kilometres, and a high payload capacity of 1 kilogram to increase your catch rate.

The SplashDrone 3 Fisherman comes with its own payload release module. They currently have two options you can choose from: PL2 and PL3.

PL2 comes with the standard package of the SplashDrone 3 Fisherman. It is a remote payload release with an integrated, fixed-angle HD FPV camera, which you can set the angle before flight to suit your needs. This camera is only for live vision, and cannot record video.

The second type is PL3, their most advanced payload release module. Its integrated, waterproof, tilt-gimballed 4K camera provides live and recorded video footage that can be adjusted even during flight compared to PL2, and allows you to locate your target drop zone and even record the whole casting process in high definition.


  • Battery Life: 4 hours
  • Flight Time: 20 minutes
  • Speed: 35 m/s
  • Range: 3 km
  • Payload Capacity: 1.2  kg

If you’re only starting out on drone fishing, but don’t want to invest too much money and don’t plan on catching sea monsters, a GoPro Karma may work for you. With a range of 3 km, a flight time of 20 minutes, and a 1.2 kg payload capacity, the GoPro Karma is suitable enough to help catch game and can even be used for laid back operations such as practicing how to fish with a drone.

It comes with a GoPro Karma camera stabilizer where you can attach your favorite GoPro model (supports HERO4 Silver and Black Edition up to HERO6) that you can pair with the Karma controller which has a 12.7 cm screen in 720p resolution, perfect for visuals while flying and navigating your drone.


  • Battery/Flight Time: 30 mins
  • Speed: 65 km/h
  • Range: 7 km
  • Camera: 4K

Notable Features

  • Forward Vision System and Downward Vision System Obstacle Avoidance

It is no surprise that a DJI drone is on this list! With its impressive flight range of 7 kilometers, 30-minute flight time and state of the art 4K camera, the Mavic Pro Platinum is easily a top contender for drone fishing.

Now, this may seem like the perfect fishing drone already, but it still has to be modified. While you can create a homemade fishing rig (more on that later), with the increasing popularity of drone fishing, brands such as Ferntech and DroneCast have caught up and produced fishing rigs and accessories so that existing Mavic users can ease into drone fishing without purchasing an entirely new model. 


  • Battery  Life/ Flight Time: 25 mins
  • Range: 1.6 km
  • Speed: 70 km/h
  • Payload Capacity: 10.4 kg
  • Camera: 4K up to 60fps

Notable Features

  • Intel RealSense Technology for 3D Mapping
  • 360-degree Rotatable 4K Camera
  • 5-Direction Obstacle Avoidance

Have bigger fish to fry? This one’s the heavy lifter on our list! The Yuneec Typhoon H is a powerful hexacopter capable of lifting medium to big game easily with its outstanding payload capacity of 10.4 kg. That’s almost ten times the payload compared to the others on our list.

Another impressive feature is its Intel RealSense Technology that allows the Yuneec to create a 3D map of its environment, detecting ad memorizing obstacles to avoid them. It’s a very helpful feature especially for fishing, as it gives you an advantage of knowing where the fish are.

It is also equipped with a 3-axis anti-vibration CGO3+ gimbal camera that captures ultra-stable 4K Ultra HD video and can be rotated through an unlimited, 360° range of motion. The CGO3+ gimbal camera features a high-quality glass 98° field of view, wide-angle lens, and offers manual camera settings while in flight.

This drone also comes with the ST16 Ground Station, an integrated transmitter, receiver and Android platform that gives you full control over Typhoon H, allowing you to easily program autonomous flight and capture stunning photos and videos. The large 7-inch integrated screen displays real-time footage of your flight, so you can spot game easily.

It also comes with another remote called Wizard, a compact flight controller with its own GPS beacon, making it the perfect second controller and a homing device for Typhoon H. With Wizard controlling Typhoon H’s flight path, the camera operator can use the included ST16 controller to focus on capturing breathtaking still images and video.


  • Battery Life/Flight Time: 18 mins
  • Range: 800 m
  • Speed: 43.2 km/h
  • Payload Capacity: 1.3 kg
  • Camera: 4K HD Video

Notable Features

  • 3-axis gimbal

The Upair One Drone is a cost-effective drone built tough from landing gear to rotor mounts, which makes it a drone you can easily modify for fishing. It is equipped with a high-quality 3-axis gimbal that allows complete control of the built-in 4K camera. It is also equipped with a controller with a built-in 7 inch LCD screen to help you navigate with its GPS coordinate features, and have HD visuals to spot game easier.


  • Battery Life/Flight Time: 27 mins
  • Range: 7 km
  • Speed: 94 km/h
  • Payload Capacity: 4 kg
  • Camera: 4K

Notable Features

  • Zenmuse X55S gimbal

Without a doubt the most expensive drone model on our list, the DJI Inspire Pro 2 is a significant investment with a whole lot of features. But despite its high price, you won’t find a drone with a longer range, better video streaming, superior flight time, or payload capacity. This drone is built to impress.

With the high price point comes high premium quality. The struts and rotor mounts are reinforced, and the landing struts are constructed to be both flexible and strong to absorb landing impacts. Its powerful built makes it a good choice for trawling. Rigging the Inspire 2 for fishing is no problem, as this drone has power and range to spare. It has a range of up to 7 kilometres and can fly up to 27 minutes even when it is fully loaded, making it a high candidate when you plan on trawling or catching bigger fish.

The Inspire 2 uses the top-of-the-line Zenmuse X5S gimbal, which allows superior angle adjustment while flying, and provides stability whether you are capturing both video footage or still images in 4K resolution. Footage can be streamed directly to your smartphone or tablet with the DJI Go app, and you can also program flight paths and use other intelligent navigation features from the convenience of your mobile device.

What to Know Before Buying a Fishing Drone?

Battery Life and Flight Time

Fishing takes time and patience, and more time means more power being used. A drone with a good and efficient battery life and flight time is highly recommended, especially when you plan on flying farther into deeper waters.

Flying Speed and Range

Aside from having a good battery life, an ideal drone must also be able to fly at a decent speed and a good range. These two factors will help you cast your fishing line farther out and return to you as quick as possible.


One of the advantages of using a drone camera for fishing is being able to scope out the water to see where the best spots to fish are, getting a better chance of catching one. A drone with a higher resolution and helpful filming features is recommended as it gives a clearer image and more detail that can assist in spotting schools of fish easier.


Pick a drone (specifically quadcopters) that is robust to withstand winds, is waterproof (recommended) or water resistant, has a strong motor that can handle heavy payload, and has self-stabilizing features for environmental conditions or unpredictable incidents (like getting into a tug of war with a much bigger fish or landing on the water).


Drones are made for different uses and are sold in different shapes, sizes, and prices. Quadcopters (meaning it has four propellers) are the recommended consumer models that can be used and modified for fishing, as they provide lifting power despite its compact size.

Some of these consumer drones range from around $650 NZD (approx. $450 USD) to $4500 NZD (approx. $3000 USD). On top of that, you’ll be attaching fishing accessories, and downriggers or bait release systems like the Phantomcast or Fish Drop. These can cost around $240 NZD ($160 USD) and $370 NZD ($250 USD) and more!

If you’re looking to buy one specifically designed for fishing, there are drones such as the SplashDrone 3, which costs around $2500 NZD (approx. $1650), and the AeroKontiki which is sold at a package price of 6375 NZD ($4100). These are based on the drone models’ SRPs and may change without prior notice.

Payload Capacity

The weight a drone can carry is called a payload. It is usually counted outside the actual weight of the drone itself and includes anything else that’s attached to it such as extra cameras, accessories, and in this case, the fishing rig and your fish. So it’s best to pick a drone that is strong enough to carry all of that and the weight of your potential catch.

A good thing to keep in mind is that the payload may affect the drone’s battery life, speed, and flight time. So the heavier the payload, more battery power is being used and can be drained quicker, resulting to a slower flying speed and a shorter flight time. So if you’re expecting to catch bigger fish, it is recommended to pick a drone that has a heavier payload capacity.

Easy to use

Drones also have different helpful features such as (but not limited to) GPS trackers, programmable flight paths, a hover function, and a “Return to Home” feature. So getting a drone you can operate at ease from where you are is highly recommended.

What to Know Before Flying a Fishing Drone?

Drone fishing is an exciting activity and a particularly expensive hobby, especially when you lose your drone. To keep from losing or breaking your drone, here are some things that you should keep in mind:

Clean Your Drone

When you are done using your drone for the day, it’s important to clean it thoroughly, whether you fly it in saltwater or freshwater, and even if it is waterproof. Doing so helps maintain the drone and its overall features.

Don’t Fly in Harsh Conditions

Whether your drone is waterproof or weatherproof, do not operate in high winds or bad weather. This can add to the force the drone needs to withstand and can affect its flight, battery, and overall performance.

Keep an Eye On the Battery

Even if your drone has a long battery life, there may be certain unexpected factors such as added weight, strong winds, big game etc. that may decrease its flight time. You can create a plan prior to flight on how far and how long you intend to use your drone after the bait is dropped.

Deactivate the Return to Home Function

Most drones have this at a press of a button. It can be a convenient tool especially when you are on land, but not so much if you are on a boat, as it is programmed to return at the exact location it took off from, which probably isn’t where your boat is when it returns.  If in any case, you are drone fishing on a boat, turn off this function and manually fly your drone back to you.

Emergency Retrieval

Worst case scenario, your drone is kilometres away and suddenly loses battery or connection, chances are it could have landed or dropped into the water. Whether it has an automatic return to home function or is waterproof, you can tie an additional line to the drone just in case something like this happens, so you can pull your drone back to you and not lose it to the ocean forever.

How to Use a Drone for Fishing?

The fundamentals of drone fishing are three simple steps:

Step 1: Attach the fishing line to the drone

Step 2: Fly the drone to the target drop zone

Step 3: Cast the fishing line into the water

1. Create a Center Attachment Point

First, create an attachment point to your drone’s legs, landing gear, or motor struts. One simple method is to tie a fishing line across the legs opposite to each other, forming an “X” at the center of the body for even weight distribution. The point where the two lines intersect can be secured with tape or a knot with another fishing line. Do not attach the line to the drone’s camera or gimbal as the weight can cause damage to the drone.

2. Attach the Release Mechanism

You need to secure a release mechanism called a downrigger by securing it by clipping or tying it however you like (as long as it is secured) at the centre where the two lines meet. This accessory holds your fishing line and lets go at the right time. The holding power of the release clip is adjustable and can work with the weight your drone can carry.

3. Attach the Fishing Line to the Release Clip

Secure the fishing line to the release clip at your desired length, enough to reach the water from a safe distance or height. Make sure your fishing rod reel is unlocked so it can be extended freely.

4. Do a Flight Test

You can test your drone on land before flying out into the water. Doing this can help you make informed decisions on how far and how high your drone can fly, how much time it will take to cast the line to and fro, how much fishing line will be used, and to test the drone’s payload capabilities.

5. Cast your line

When it’s your first time drone fishing, it helps to have a fishing buddy with you. One can handle the fishing rod, and the other can operate the drone. Fly out the drone to the point where you wish to drop your bait into the water. You can cast your line by either bait casting or trawling.

Types of Casting

While it seems like drone fishing can be done in a lot of other ways, there are two main types of using it to cast your fishing line: bait casting and trawling.

Bait Casting

Bait Casting basically requires a release mechanism or downrigger that can be enabled to drop your bait into the water in a press of a button.


Trawling is a more exciting way to fish and is recommended for more experienced anglers. This method requires a downrigger tension release clip. Essentially, the fishing line is attached to the drone, flown out into the water at the desired location, until the fishing line enters the water. The drone then hovers and drags the fishing line around until a fish bites and pulls until the clip releases from the drone.

Fly out the drone to the point where you wish to drop your bait into the water. After dropping the bait, you can have your drone hover and capture a live view on what’s going on, or you can have it return to you.

After dropping the bait, you can have your drone hover and capture a live view on what’s going on, or you can have it return to you. Once you catch a fish, you can start reeling it in manually or by using an electric fishing rod. Some drones are capable of flying back with your catch if you choose to, as long as it can handle the payload and has enough battery power.

The Advantages of Drone Fishing

Fishing drones are a game changer for anglers and drone enthusiasts alike. Here are just a few of the many advantages you can expect with you first fishing drone:

  1. Drones allow you to scout your fishing spot from a bird’s eye view and even find new secret fishing spots.
  2. It helps in locating the schools of fish that are near the surface of the water. You can use drones as a spectator before you start fishing in order to find the ideal spot.
  3. You won’t need to ride a kayak to cast out into the surf. Using a drone for fishing is convenient since you can be a land-based angler.
  4. Drones can fly out to cast your line at even farther distances.
  5. Unlike boats, drones are not bound to any surf conditions.
  6. It is mobile. You may be able to transport your drone to your fishing spot easily.
  7. The camera has a live vision. Some types can even record the whole casting process in high definition.
  8. Sometimes, boats can scare off fish with the sound of their engines, which makes it difficult and frustrating to capture tuna. With a drone, it is easier and more effective.
  9. The camera allows you to locate your target drop zone.
  10. It’s much cheaper than buying a boat! Especially when you take into consideration fuel and maintenance costs!

How Drone Fishing Can Go Wrong

Drone Fishing has its limitations. Without proper maintenance and care, things can go wrong. To keep from losing or breaking your drone during flight keep the below in mind:

  • Flying your drone too far can cause you to either run out of fishing line or lose signal from the device, leaving you with a lost drone. Always keep an eye on your drones signal and fly line of sight.
  • Some drones have short battery lives. Make sure you check the battery life of drones you are thinking to buy.
  • If you are on a moving boat and you click the “return to home feature”, the drone will return at the exact location it took off from, which probably isn’t where your boat is when it returns.
  • If the fish you captured is heavier than the payload capacity, the drone will exert more effort which will affect the drone’s battery life, speed, and flight time.
  • When your drone is flying in a harsh condition, it can affect its flight, battery, and overall performance.
  • Some drones are not waterproof. If it falls into the water, the water may cause malfunction or unseen damage.

Always read your specific drones instruction manual to make sure you protect your investment.

Drone Fishing Laws

The fundamentals of drone fishing are three simple steps:

Step 1: Attach the fishing line to the drone

Step 2: Fly the drone to the target drop zone

Step 3: Cast the fishing line into the water

All drone users must follow the laws laid out by the Civil Aviation Authority, as well as following the policies of whichever local council is responsible for the area you wish to fly in. We’ve attempted to explain the Drone Laws in New Zealand in plain English for more details, but here are some of those rules to apply when fishing with your drone:

  • You are allowed to use a drone with a maximum weight of 25 kilograms
  • Keep the drone in your line of sight
  • Fly during daylight
  • Practice safe flying
  • Have permission from the property owners before flying
  • Only fly up to 120 meters
  • Keep at least a 4-kilometer distance from airports and controlled airspace
  • Don’t operate in No-Fly Zones

You can check out this map to view the No Fly Zones in New Zealand. There are still a lot of things to consider when you plan on using your drone for fishing. The information we have laid out are based only on our research for drone fishing in New Zealand, and can only serve as a basic guide. Some laws may have been updated, so for the best safety measure, contact the Civil Aviation Authority or the local councils of the areas you plan on flying in.

Drone Fishing in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide (2019 Update)
Article Name
Drone Fishing in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide (2019 Update)
Drones have taken fishing for both recreational users and the commercial fishing industry on a whole new (higher/aerial) level. Compared to other contemporary longline fishing methods such as using an electric Kontiki, which torpedos out into the water to cast your line, drones have an advantage of fly out to cast your line at even farther distances, give you more control, visual access at a bird’s eye view, automated features, and image and video capturing capabilities, all in a compact, travel-friendly design.
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Drone Psycho
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