A drone has crashed into a protected albatross breeding site on Otago Peninsula, sparking a warning from the Department of Conservation (DOC).
DOC said it found the remote-controlled aircraft last week on the ground close to the nest of a northern royal albatross, inside the fence at the sanctuary at Taiaroa Head.
The site is the species' only mainland breeding colony in the world.
DOC Coastal Otago operations manager Annie Wallace said drones were a growing problem around the sanctuary, as they could injure or kill the rare seabirds who flew and nested there.
She said drones were banned from the area under Civil Aviation Authority rules, yet last summer two or three drones were being spotted every month.
"It's a huge concern for us in terms of the wildlife we have out there, because not only have we got there, because not only have we got the Taiaroa Head albatross colony, we've also got a whole range of other highly threatened seabirds who nest out there.
"It's a dangerous thing for the birds to have drones flying around."
Miss Wallace said DOC had put up signs in the area warning drone operators, and would be actively following up all breaches.