Obtaining New Zealand Vertical Datum 2016 (NZVD2016) Heights

New Zealand Vertical Datum 2016 (NZVD2016) heights can be obtained anywhere in New Zealand, including the offshore islands. Published NZVD2016 heights are available in Landonline and the Geodetic Database. Calculated heights can be derived from GNSS (global navigation satellite system) observations. Transferred heights can be obtained using traditional heighting techniques.

New Zealand Vertical Datum 2016 (NZVD2016) was introduced on 27 June 2016 to replace the multiple local vertical datums (LVD) previously used for height references in New Zealand. The Surveyor-General requires surveyors to use NZVD2016 for all surveys including cadastral surveys starting 1 July 2024.

New Zealand Vertical Datum 2016

Local mean sea level datums

Both LVD and NZVD2016 heights are normal-orthometric. This means they are determined in relation to gravity allowing us to predict the direction of water flow. They are suitable for a wide range of surveying, engineering and planning applications.

NZVD2016 normal-orthometric heights

LVD heights are based on a single point and accessed through a linear network of benchmarks, while NZVD2016 heights are referenced to a surface. This surface enables precise and consistent height determination anywhere in New Zealand, including its offshore islands. With more than 50,000 marks, NZVD2016 offers better coverage than the 13 official LVD which have only 38,000 marks. In urban areas 3V NZVD2016 marks have a 200-metre spacing, while in rural areas they have a 2-kilometre spacing.

Toitū Te Whenua publishes NZVD2016 heights through Landonline and the Geodetic Database. These heights have been determined using the National Geodetic Adjustment to appropriately assign mark orders (accuracy description).


Geodetic Database

National Geodetic Adjustment

How to obtain NZVD2016 heights

Control points

Geodetic Database

NZVD2016 heights in the Geodetic Database are determined through the National Geodetic Adjustment. These heights are nationally consistent, maintainable, and are assessed to correctly assign vertical coordinate orders.

Find out more about accessing and downloading geodetic marks

PositioNZ-Post Processing Service

The PositioNZ-PP service can generate NZVD2016 heights at a chosen location. Collecting at least 4 hours of data will usually produce heights that are precise to 3cm at a 95% confidence interval.

Find out more about the PositioNZ-Post Processing Service


Terrestrial levelling

NZVD2016 heights can be transferred to nearby marks using terrestrial levelling methods. The main levelling techniques are trigonometric levelling (where a difference in height is calculated by measuring the angle and distance between points), spirit levelling (measuring the vertical distance in relation to a horizontal line), and precise levelling (similar to spirit levelling, but using very accurate tools and methods to reduce errors and ensure precise results).

GNSS observation

NZVD2016 can be observed using GNSS (global navigation satellite system) methods. GNSS observations usually provide an ellipsoidal height in terms of New Zealand Geodetic Datum 2000 (NZGD2000). These can be easily and accurately converted to NZVD2016 by applying a correction for the geoid model, New Zealand Quasigeoid 2016 (NZGeoid2016). This correction can be made using the online coordinate converter or in most common geospatial software.

New Zealand Geodetic Datum 2000 Ellipsoidal Heights

New Zealand Geodetic Datum 2000

New Zealand Quasigeoid 2016

Online coordinate converter

GNSS heights are best used for surveys with long distances between marks or to establish a local control point to level from.

Transforming existing data

Vertical datum transformation grids

Toitū Te Whenua provides vertical datum relationship grids that allow you to create a surface and convert heights from one of the 13 local vertical datums (LVD) or NZGD2000 to NZVD2016. These transformations are made using a best-fit approach with nearby control marks. More information on how these grids were created is on our page about computing the vertical datum relationship grids for NZVD2016.

Computation of the vertical datum relationship grids for NZVD2016

You can download our LVD transformation grids from the LINZ Data Service and apply them directly to your spatial data. Our online coordinate converter transforms data using these grids.  You can also find the transformation grids in most common geospatial software and GNSS equipment.

New Zealand Vertical Datum 2016

Online coordinate converter

Point cloud projections

For large geospatial datasets, such as LiDAR point-clouds, the most efficient method to transform LVD data may be to use specialised programmes and scripts. Guidance on reprojecting point-clouds can be found on our Medium blog: Reprojecting point-clouds to NZVD2016.

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