3D maps now available for over half of New Zealand

3D maps now available for over half of New Zealand

Driving new opportunities in the mapping landscape, a significant milestone has been achieved in New Zealand. With the introduction of 3D mapping data for the Waikato and Southland regions, access to highly detailed terrain information for over half of the nation is now a reality.

This invaluable resource is available free of charge through the Toitū Te Whenua LINZ Data Service. Representing a strategic advancement, this recent data release marks a pivotal step in a comprehensive project aimed at providing intricate 3D imagery for a substantial 80% of the country. This initiative lays the foundation for a range of commercial applications and insights.

“There is great demand for the data by local government, private sector companies, academia and Crown Research Institutes, and this demand continues to grow as the national coverage expands,” said Bjorn Johns, Toitū Te Whenua technical leader imagery and elevation.

Lidar technology is leveraged to intricately capture high-definition terrain data. Employing Lidar, in conjunction with supplementary datasets, intricately craft meticulous 3D cartography. These renderings are commonly referred to as digital elevation models. “These are invaluable to councils and regional industries for planning and will help with land management, flood and landslide hazard mapping, engineering design and 3D visualization,” Johns added.

“Having baseline data will make it easier to assess changes resulting from major events like earthquakes and severe weather events. Areas can be resurveyed and the new images compared with base data to better understand the impact of the events and to support the response and recovery phases of an emergency."

Impactful data utilization

The recent release of Lidar data for the Waikato and Southland regions contributes to an expanding collection of information that has already been gathered and shared. This comprehensive data has resulted from a collaborative effort involving regional councils and Kānoa, the Regional Development and Investment Unit operating within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (formerly known as the Provincial Growth Fund). This project was initiated in 2018 and is scheduled for completion by 2024.

According to Andrew Ferrel, Manager of Partnership Programmes at Toitū Te Whenua, a sense of genuine satisfaction has arisen. This gratification is not only linked to achieving the 50 percent milestone, but also to witnessing the impactful utilization of the data. "Making this data available supports innovation and gives all businesses and other operators access to detailed information that would otherwise be unavailable to many.”

Co-funding from Kānoa-RDU is supporting the substantial regional expansion of the New Zealand National Elevation Programme, which is based on partnerships between Toitū Te Whenua and councils across all 16 New Zealand regions.

Location data analyst Emory Beck is working on quality control of the new data: “Having early access to data covering parts of the country at this level of detail is fascinating as we see the many different types of landforms and relief features that are ‘unearthed’ by elevation data.”

Find out more on the Elevation Aotearoa website.

3D image of Mataura River, Southland’s longest river. (Image source: Land Information New Zealand)
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