18 Jul

Drone mapping large wetlands

Flightworks is authorised by CAA to fly drones further than visual line of sight when this is safely managed with assistance. We are the first operators in New Zealand that have been authorised to do this in a restricted set of circumstances. This means we can efficiently cover large areas without having to move flight bases and our drones can access distant areas of interest.

We want to ensure that the data we collect provides valuable insights into natural area management. ArcGIS Online Storymaps are a great way to present data in an easily accessible format. Here are 4 examples of our recent work providing aerial imagery and GIS layers of weed sites in large and inaccessible wetlands (see Storymap link below). They are all within Aerodrome, Control or Low Fly zones, which also require specific authorisation:

Firth of Thames mangroves (1,400ha) – The Department of Conservation are searching for the weedy grass spartina amongst the large and difficult-access areas of mangroves in the Firth of Thames.

“Flightworks provided high resolution imagery over a very large area. We can use this imagery on smartphones when checking and controlling weeds in the field, while having live access to our database”

-Ken Brown, Conservation Services Ranger (Biodiversity), DOC Hauraki

Ohaupo Peat Lakes (108ha) – The Living Water partnership between Fonterra and the Department of Conservation is helping manage the peat lakes in the Ohaupo area, south of  Hamilton.

“Storymaps are a great way to visualise a wide range of data in one easy format and an excellent tool to track progress and share project outcomes with management, stakeholders or project sponsors.”

Dion Patterson, Senior Ranger Operations, DOC Waikato

Taharoa wetlands (240ha) – Waikato Regional Council and the Department of Conservation are collaborating with the Taharoa Lakes Trust to manage the many wetlands surrounding the Taharoa Lakes, south of Kawhia Harbour.

“Flightworks used drones to help us detect and map weeds in a complicated network of remote wetlands.”

Thomas Emmitt, Supervisor, Biodiversity, DOC Maniapoto 

Kaitoke wetlands (567ha) – The Department of Conservation and Auckland Council are managing weeds in the DOC Kaitoke wetland and surrounding private wetlands at Claris, Great Barrier Island.


“We use ArcGIS Online Storymaps to deliver aerial drone data in smart ways to help manage and communicate projects.”

Scott Sambell, GIS Manager, Flightworks 

Click the image below to open the Storymap about these wetlands.