The Crown historic aerial photo archive scanning project

LINZ’s historic imagery scanning project seeks to digitise the Crown aerial imagery archive in the interest of long term preservation, easier access, and better use of this valuable national resource.

The Crown historic aerial photo archive

The Crown archive contains over 600,000 photos on film from nearly 7,000 aerial surveys captured from 1936 through 2005. Imagery was captured for a range of purposes including mapping and land management. The archive is securely stored to ensure these films are preserved. Information on the content of the archive and the approximate area covered by each photograph is currently available on the LINZ Data Service.

Historic image of Wellington waterfront, 1953

Scanning the archive

The historic imagery scanning project is digitising the Crown aerial imagery archive in the interest of long term preservation, easier access, and better use of this valuable national resource.

The scanning is enabled with partner contribution from the following regions:

  • Auckland
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Canterbury
  • Gisborne
  • Hawke's Bay
  • Marlborough
  • Northland
  • Otago
  • Southland
  • Tasman
  • Waikato
  • Wellington

LINZ is seeking additional partners to prioritise and cost-share continued scanning.

The scanning project will make a greater range of products available, including:

  • High and low resolution digital photos. The negatives are scanned at 14 or 21 microns, depending on the film quality.
  • Metadata
  • Survey charts (example below)
  • Camera calibration files

The photos are indexed on the LINZ Data Service (LDS) - NZ Aerial Photo Footprints webpage.

The surveys are indexed on the LINZ Data Service (LDS) - NZ Aerial Survey Footprints webpage.

Scanned photos from the partner regions may be viewed and downloaded from the Retrolens website.

Photos from the entire archive may also be requested from Opus International for a fee. Ph Opus 0800 680 690.

Guidelines on geo-referencing and orthorectification of historic aerial imagery (attached below) are available as an aid to users who may need better understanding of the various options for creating GIS imagery from the historic photos.

Sample survey chart

As part of work to support the Emissions Trading Scheme, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has recently scanned aerial imagery from the period 1980-2000. This imagery covers most of New Zealand and was scanned from hardcopy prints. If you are interested in using this imagery please email MPI's Spatial Analysis Services.

Current imagery

LINZ has also worked to unlock the benefits of current aerial imagery. Imagery covering 95 percent of New Zealand is freely available online through the LINZ Data Service.

For further information, email LINZ's Imagery team.

Last Updated: 23 March 2017