Christchurch's red zone gets purpose-built course for high-speed drone racing

Christchurch's earthquake-damaged red zone has been used for nearly 3000 different things in the past four years and one of the latest might surprise you.

Reaching speeds of up to 160km/h it can take a drone less than ten seconds to complete a lap.

"Flying around at high speeds and looking through the goggles is something you don't get from any other sport really," says Nathan van Slooten, president of Red Zone Drone Racing.

The sport is drone racing and it's really taking off.

"They're basically flying weedeaters you have to be really careful - super fast though, super fast," racer Aaron Grimes says.

The drones are equipped with cameras and the ground-based 'pilots' wear goggles that show a live video feed, allowing them to dodge trees, steer around poles and under gates. They're racing for the fastest time - and sometimes a little too fast.

"There's always crashing involved. If you're not crashing you're not pushing yourself hard enough," van Slooten says.

Most of the drones are home-made, making mid-air smashes less serious.

"There's a lot of electronics and soldering and wires and you've got computer skills to set them up," van Slooten says.

The purpose-built course is in Christchurch's red zone.

"It's a good space for us. There are no houses around and no one to get annoyed at the sound," van Slooten says.

Previously used for beekeeping and mountain biking, drone racing is another temporary use for the earthquake-damaged land. And a reason for residents to return.

"I think it's a jolly good idea. It's marvellous, it's got some use to it," Sally Manze says.

"They're cool, they're really fast. It's cool watching them," adds Melissa Annan.

Taking technology to the skies in a new era of sport.