Coming soon to Te Papa: Drone races

Tickets are selling fast for the world’s first drone race to be held at a national museum.

Twelve racers are all set to go “drone to drone” in Te Papa’s Bush City this coming Saturday night, in what is thought to be the world’s first drone races held at a national museum. If that’s not cool enough, they also have some serious speed, says Te Papa’s Kate Camp. “These drones can go from zero to 100km in two seconds and reach speeds of up to 150km an hour,” she explains. “With the drone’s eye view projected up onto the huge screens, you can watch them race around Te Papa’s Bush City, and you can get up close to the pilots and their machines.”

Ok, so they’re fast. And they also sound cool, Camp adds. Oh, and they may or may not explode. “The sound these things make and the speed they travel at is phenomenal – they are incredibly lightweight, and designed to smash on impact when they crash. The crowd should be ready for some high speed sprints, aerial acrobatics, lots of thrills… and some pretty awesome collisions.”

The drones are fitted with small cameras giving the pilot, who wears goggles, a drone’s-eye view of the course. Using remote controls, they guide the drones around the course. 

New Zealand’s top three drone racers, alongside five New Zealand representatives who competed at the 2016 World Drone Racing Championships in Hawaii, will be among those battling it out as they race drones around. Camp says running a high speed aerial race within Te Papa’s courtyard required some careful planning. “A lot of paperwork goes in to organising an event like this – we have all the permissions in place to let us bring these high speed drones right into the heart of the waterfront.”

Photo: Mike O'Neill

Te Papa is selling tickets to the event for $20 a pop. Tickets get visitors trackside seats for the drone races, live music from DJ Jedi, and entry to the museum’s new Bug Lab exhibition, which will be open until 9pm for drone race ticket holders only.

Photo: Mike O'Neill

But let’s be honest: the real show is the drones. And if buying tickets doesn’t appeal, Camp says people should consider the following as motivation: the drones will be racing within Te Papa’s courtyard, and will only be visible to ticket holders.

Photo: Mike O'Neill

The $20 entry price gets you trackside seats for the drone races, music from DJ Jedi, along with entry to the blockbuster Bug Lab exhibition, which will be open to 9pm for drone race ticket holders only.