A wealth of government geospatial data is online and free to use

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A wealth of government geospatial data is online and free to use

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) wants engineers to take full advantage

Figure 1: Image of Lyall Bay in Wellington that has been modelled by blending aerial imagery, a digital surface model and building footprints.

National mapping agency LINZ provides authoritative charts and topo maps, but is also now focused on publishing geospatial data that models New Zealand’s built and natural environments in detail. The agency shares its datasets—ranging from road and river data to aerial imagery and LiDAR—on data.linz.govt.nz.

Roger Carman, LINZ’s Group Manager for Topography, sees the engineering community as key customer group. “Our strategy is to maximise the value that New Zealand gets from our data, products and services by improving them and making them open for re-use. Engineers are already a major customer group for the online data, and we want this use to grow. LINZ publishes terabytes of data that will provide valuable insight and context for your projects.”

Figure 2: Aerial image of Lyall Bay. You can find imagery datasets at data.linz.govt.nz. Start at the NZ Imagery surveys dataset, which brings together information to help you determine what imagery data is available for a particular location.


Figure 3: A digital surface model of Lyall Bay, Wellington. LINZ publishes both surface and ground models and the raw underlying LiDAR points.


Figure 4: Building outlines data for Lyall Bay. Building outlines is a new dataset available at data.linz.govt.nz


Figure 5: Historical aerial imagery of Lyall Bay that is available at retrolens.nz


Right now, the LINZ Data Service provides:

  • Aerial imagery covering 95% of NZ
  • A growing number of LiDAR datasets
  • Topo map data layers and hydro charts, addresses and property data
  • A new dataset of building outlines.

LINZ and councils are also half way through digitising NZ’s archive of 600,000 historical aerial photos, which provide a record of land use change that dates as far back as far as 1936. You can find the images online at retrolens.nz

Alongside the LiDAR available on the LINZ Data Service, LINZ also publishes raw point cloud LiDAR data on opentopography.org. A user recently calculated that there is now data covering 18,000 sq km of New Zealand available on this site.

Coming to the LINZ Data Service in the future:

Aside from the comprehensive data now available, Roger would like engineers to keep an eye on these platforms because LINZ is planning to publish:

  • Region-wide LiDAR data for Northland and the East Coast that is currently being collected
  • New updates of aerial imagery as
  • it’s collected by councils
  • A new dataset for a complete, connected river network.

List of links mentioned in this article:


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Issue 96
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ISSN 0111–6851