A boundary is a line or surface which delineates the horizontal or vertical extent of a parcel of land. A boundary can be represented by a right-line, an arc, or an irregular line, and the term ‘boundary’ can also refer to permanent structures such as fences and walls, or natural features such as ridge lines, banks of rivers, or tidal margins.
Boundaries can be movable (ambulatory), as in the case of water boundaries, or fixed, as in the case of boundaries delineated by monuments placed in the ground or permanent structures. This guidance relates to different forms of fixed boundaries commonly used in New Zealand.
For key terms relating to boundaries, see Schedule 2 of the CSR 2021.
A right-line boundary must follow the shortest distance between two boundary points (r 7).
Right-line boundaries only for horizontal extent of parcel
A right-line boundary may be used to define the horizontal extent of a primary or non-primary parcel boundary, but not the vertical extent (r 38 and r 46).
Length and direction of line expressed as vector
The length and direction of a right-line boundary is required to be shown on a title diagram as a vector comprising a bearing and distance (r 105(1)(a)). However, this does not apply to:
- an existing non-primary parcel boundary already defined in an approved CSD (r 105(2)(a))
- a boundary that is accepted (r 105(2)(b))
- an inaccurately determined boundary that coincides with the underlying parcel boundary (r 105(2)(c)).
An arc boundary must follow part of the circumference of a horizontal circle (r 8).
Arc boundaries only for horizontal extent of parcel
An arc boundary may be used to define the horizontal extent of a primary or non-primary parcel boundary but not the vertical extent (r 38 and r 46).
Size and location of arc line expressed as a chord bearing
The size and location of an arc boundary is required to be shown on a title diagram, and the chord bearing, arc distance, and radius of the arc boundary must be included (r 105(1)(b)). The chord bearing, arc distance, and radius may be included as a user-added annotation.
An irregular boundary must follow an irregular (or wavy) line (r 9(1)).
The use of irregular boundaries is restricted under the CSR 2021. This means that new irregular boundaries must not be created, and existing irregular boundaries must be converted to right-lines, unless expressly allowed to be used in certain circumstances (r 9(2) and (3)).
Where new irregular boundaries are permitted
New irregular boundaries are only permitted in the following circumstances:
- A new non-primary parcel boundary which coincides with an existing irregular primary parcel boundary which will remain as an irregular boundary after survey (r 46(3)).
- The landward boundary of a movable marginal strip or esplanade strip (r 46(4)).
- A new non-primary parcel boundary which coincides with the irregular landward boundary of a movable marginal strip or esplanade strip (r 46(5)).
- An existing water boundary where the physical margin of the water body has moved but the documentary boundary has not moved (r 10(3)(a)).
Where existing irregular boundaries may remain as irregular boundaries
Existing irregular boundaries may remain as irregular boundaries in a new CSD in the following circumstances:
- An existing irregular boundary that is part of a new primary parcel accepted under rule 15(2). In this case:
- there must be no risk of the boundary encroaching on another parcel (r 15(2)(a))
- the boundary must be part of a new primary parcel over 20 ha, comprising more than 80 percent of the existing primary parcel being extinguished (r15(2)(b))
- the boundary is part of the balance of a title that is to remain limited as to parcels or remain a Hawke’s Bay interim title and its boundary points do not meet class C boundary accuracies (r 15(2)(c)(iii)), or the boundary is an existing irregular boundary (r 15(2)(c)(v)).
- An existing irregular boundary that is part of a new balance or residue parcel, where the irregular boundary and boundary points are not common with another new parcel on the same survey, accepted under rule 15(3).
- An existing irregular boundary and its associated boundary points that are part of a new primary parcel over 100 ha, and are not in common with another parcel on the same survey that is 100 ha or less, accepted under rule 15(4).
- An existing irregular boundary that is part of a new primary parcel over 20 ha comprising more than 80 percent of the existing primary parcel being extinguished (r 9(3)(b)(i)).
- An existing irregular boundary that is part of a new primary parcel over 100 ha (r 9(3)(b)(ii)).
- An existing irregular boundary which was previously a water boundary and has previously been treated as an irregular boundary in accordance with rule 10(3)(a) (r 9(3)(c)).
- An existing irregular boundary which bounds a non-primary parcel (r 46(6)).
An existing irregular boundary that followed the centre-line of a water body may be adopted in its previously defined position as a water centre-line boundary (r 11(2)). In all other cases, an existing irregular primary parcel boundary must be converted to right-lines (r 9(3)).
Requirements where irregular boundaries are converted to right-lines
Irregular boundaries that have been converted to right-lines must be defined by survey (r 13(c)). Conversion to right-lines results in the creation of new boundary points. For a class A right-line boundary on a new primary parcel, the new boundary points must be marked on the ground if practicable (r 35(1)).
Adequacy of definition where irregular boundaries are converted to right-lines
When an existing irregular or water centre-line boundary is converted to right-lines, the location of the new right-line boundary must be determined to appropriate accuracy. The existing boundary must not be copied from Landonline without verification that it is in the correct position.
Verification involves determining the correct shape of the boundary at the time it was surveyed. This may require digitisation of the boundary from the source CSD or determination of the boundary from field notes or aerial photography dating from the time of the survey.
If the irregular or water centre-line boundary is depicted on the source plan at a scale that is not sufficiently accurate for determining the location of the new fixed right-line boundary, determination from field notes or aerial photography may be preferable to digitisation of the boundary from the source CSD.
If an existing irregular boundary was defined by offsets from an adjoining water boundary, and the margin of the water body has not moved since the irregular boundary was originally defined, it may be appropriate to define the irregular boundary by a better survey fix of the water body.
For further information about this process, see:
Regardless of the technique used to define the boundary, the survey report should include details of the accuracy of irregular or water centre-line boundaries and the method used to define them (r 72(k), r 72(o), and see also r 29).
Examples of existing irregular boundaries
The majority of existing irregular boundaries in the cadastre are associated with older surveys where fixed marginal strips, reserves for public purposes, or roads are offset from the edge of waterways. Large rural parcels defined on early Crown land plans, particularly in the South Island, were often bounded by irregular boundaries following natural features such as ridge lines, bush edges, or cliffs. Roads which run through large rural parcels created on early survey plans may also be bounded by irregular boundaries.
Water centre-line boundaries
A water centre-line boundary follows the line midway between the landward margins of a stream or river bed (r 11(1)). Surveyors have usually treated water centre-line boundaries as fixed – meaning they do not move together with the banks and bed of a water body when accretion or erosion occurs. However recent research has suggested that this approach may have been based on an incorrect interpretation of a New South Wales Court case, In re White (1927) 27 SR (NSW) 129. The CSR 2021 recognise water centre-line boundaries as a new type of boundary but are silent on whether they are fixed or not. When a survey is affected by an existing water centre-line boundary the intent to ‘fix’ that boundary, or not, at the time it was created needs to be carefully examined.
New water centre-line boundaries cannot be created (r 11(3)).
Examples of existing water centre-line boundaries
To be considered a water centre-line boundary, the survey plan on which the boundary was originally defined must show a clear intention for the boundary to follow the centre-line of the water body.
Water centre-line boundaries are likely to be found on older Land Transfer or Māori Land (LT, DP or ML) plans and are expressly shown or described as extending to the centre of the water body.
Historically, small-scale Survey Office (SO) plans which subdivided large rural parcels for settlement often depicted streams as single lines with an annotation for the stream name. Streams were usually depicted in this manner to simplify plan draughting, rather than to indicate that the boundary was intended to follow the centre-line of the stream.
If streams depicted as single lines coincide with parcel boundaries, but the relevant plan does not have annotations or diagram enlargements that confirm whether the boundary follows the bank or the centre-line of the stream, the field notes and associated estate records, such as current and historic titles and Crown grants, should be checked to see if they contain further information. If the field notes do not contain any relevant information, the boundary should be presumed to be the near bank of the stream rather than the centre-line.
Irregular centre-line boundary may be treated as a water centre-line boundary
In the past, survey rules and regulations have required water centre-line boundaries to be treated as irregular boundaries and, in many cases, right-lined.
Under the CSR 2021, an existing irregular boundary that followed, or follows, the centre-line of a water body may be adopted in its previously defined position as a water centre-line boundary (r 11(2)).
The boundary must be annotated on the survey and title diagrams as following the centre-line (r 88, r 104).
Accuracy of irregular and water centre-line boundaries
Accuracy classes do not apply to irregular and water centre-line boundaries (r 29(1)).
Despite this, new and adopted irregular or water centre-line boundaries must meet the accuracy criteria of rule 29(2).
An irregular or water centre-line boundary accepted under rule 15 is not required to comply with the accuracy requirements of rule 29(2). Examples where this occurs include:
- a water centre-line boundary for a parcel that will remain in a limited title or a Hawke’s Bay interim title (r 15(2)(c)(iv))
- an existing irregular boundary (r 15(2)(c)(v))
- an existing irregular or water centre-line boundary for a balance parcel or residue parcel that is not common with another new parcel on the survey (r 15(3))
- an existing irregular or water centre-line boundary for a parcel over 100 ha, which is not common with another parcel on the same survey which is 100 ha or less (r 15(4)).
Information about the accuracy of an irregular or water centre-line boundary, and the factors considered for the determination of that boundary, as specified in rule 29(2), must be included in the survey report (r 72(k)). This information is not necessary for an irregular or water centre-line boundary which is accepted.
Accuracy of intersection of right-line and irregular/water centre-line boundaries
In instances where a right-line boundary and an irregular or water centre-line boundary intersect:
- the bearing of the right-line boundary must meet the accuracy standards specified in rule 27(1) for class A, B, or C accuracies, as appropriate (r 30(a))
- the distance of the right-line boundary must match the accuracy of the irregular or water centre-line boundary as determined under rule 29(2), and must be class D (r 30(b)).
In order to comply with rule 30, these right-line boundaries must be captured in Landonline as class AD, BD, or CD, where the first letter represents the bearing accuracy class and the second letter represents the distance accuracy class.
Special requirements for parcels with irregular or water centre-line boundaries
Boundary reinstatement surveys must not be used to reinstate the position of a boundary point forming part of a water centre-line or irregular boundary (r 114(1)(a)).
If a water centre-line boundary affected by ground movement is to be retained under rule 11(2), it must be accepted rather than adopted (r 109(5)).
Treatment of irregular and water centre-line boundaries in Landonline
Capture of irregular and water centre-line boundaries
For information about capture of irregular and water centre-line boundaries in Landonline, see the following.
- Irregular Lines (New Landonline).
- Capture – irregular boundaries (Legacy Landonline).
- Irregular boundaries – splitting (Legacy Landonline).
- Irregular boundaries not displaying in Layout Sheets (Legacy Landonline).
For information about annotation of irregular and water centre-line boundaries in Landonline, see:
- Edit irregular boundary attributes (New Landonline)
- Water, water centre-line and irregular boundary annotation (Legacy Landonline).
Capture of connections to irregular and water centre-line boundaries
In some cases, existing irregular or water centre-line boundaries are not accurately depicted in Landonline. As such, they must not be copied from Landonline without verification that they are in the correct position.
Verification involves determining the correct shape of the boundary at the time it was surveyed. This may require digitisation of the boundary from the source CSD or determination of the boundary from field notes or aerial photography dating from the time of the survey.
Verification using these techniques may involve the capture of ties or offsets to intermediate points. While these ties may be valuable for the accurate adoption of the boundary, the CSR 2021 do not require them to be included in the CSD.
If a surveyor chooses to capture ties to intermediate points in a CSD, separate irregular or water centre-line boundaries should be created between adjacent intermediate points, rather than having a single line that passes over them. The intermediate points are to be considered as end points for the purposes of rule 89(e) and need to have a minimum of one vector connected to them.
The survey report should include details of the accuracy of irregular or water centre-line boundaries and the method used to define them (r 72(k), r 72(o), and see also r 29).
Recording irregular and water centre-line boundaries to scale on survey diagrams and title diagrams
On a survey diagram and title diagram an irregular or water centre-line boundary must be depicted to show its true shape and relationship to other boundaries (r 85(a) and r 100), and
Where information that is to scale is unclear or ambiguous (for example, a long narrow parcel where an irregular boundary and an adjoining stream boundary appear to merge), these boundaries may be shown as distorted in separate diagrams.
On a survey diagram, the scale must be adequate to meet the accuracy requirements of rule 29(2) (r 85(b)).
Height-limited boundaries are used to define the vertical (upper and/or lower) extent of a parcel and were previously referred to as stratum boundaries.
A height-limited boundary may be a surface that is mathematically described (r 12(2)(a)), or the surface or the bed of a water body (r 12(2)(b)). However, ground level is not an appropriate description for a height-limited boundary.
The vertical extent of a primary parcel must be defined by a height-limited boundary (r 38(2)).
The vertical extent of a non-primary parcel specified in rule 56(1) may be defined by a height-limited boundary or a permanent structure boundary. However, the vertical extent of a non-primary parcel that is not specified in rule 56(1) may only be defined by a height-limited boundary (r 46(2)).
The same boundary cannot be both a height-limited boundary and a permanent structure boundary.
Refer also to:
Mathematical description of a height-limited boundary
A height-limited boundary that is mathematically described must have at least one point with a reduced level (r 12(2)(a)). However, inclusion of a reduced level alone is not sufficient to create a height-limited boundary. The boundary surface must also be mathematically described.
Rule 12(2)(a) is not prescriptive as to how a boundary surface is mathematically described. This allows for horizontal planes, sloped (angled) planes, and other shapes such as cylinders to be used as height-limited boundaries.
Height-limited boundaries for horizontal planes may be defined by cross section plan graphics showing the relevant boundaries as horizontal lines with reduced levels as appropriate (see Figure 6 below). Other surfaces such as sloped planes may need to be described by mathematical formulae in addition to reduced levels. Complicated boundary forms such as cylinders are likely to be rare, and if such boundary forms are used, advice should be sought from LINZ if required.
Accuracy of mathematically described height-limited boundaries
For information relating to accuracy of mathematically described height-limited boundaries, see:
Permanent reference marks and vertical control marks for height-limited boundaries
Boundary points for height-limited boundaries which are mathematically described under rule 12(2)(a) must be referenced to permanent reference marks and related to vertical control marks as follows.
Permanent Reference Marks (PRMs)
Referencing height-limited boundary points to PRMs is intended to allow the position of the height-limited boundary points to be re-established within allowable accuracy tolerances in the future. As such, there are different referencing requirements for primary and non-primary parcels.
All new height-limited boundary points on a primary parcel must be referenced by at least one PRM (r 31(c)). In addition, there must be a minimum of three PRMs (r 32(2)), and two of the three PRMs must have a reduced level (r 34).
Height-limited boundary points on a non-primary parcel are only required to be referenced in certain circumstances, that is, new height-limited boundary points:
- for a unit must be referenced (r 61(1))
- on a non-primary parcel for an easement, lease or covenant do not need to be referenced (r 61(2))
- that coincide with an accepted boundary do not need to be referenced (r 61(3)).
Where a new height-limited boundary point on a non-primary parcel does need to be referenced, there must be minimum of two PRMs with reduced levels. Each PRM must be within the applicable distance in rule 61(4) of at least one of the boundary points required to be referenced (r 61(5)).
All height-limited boundary points required to be referenced, whether on a primary or non-primary parcel, must meet the applicable vertical accuracy standards in rule 21.
A survey diagram must include the reduced level of a reference mark included in the survey to meet the requirements of rule 34 or rule 61(5) (r 82(d)).
For information relating to requirements for boundary referencing, see:
For information relating to accuracy of referencing height-limited boundaries, see:
Vertical Control Marks (VCMs)
If a height-limited boundary and its associated boundary points are defined by a reduced level, a VCM must be included in the CSD (r 18(2) and r 18(3)). Inclusion of a VCM is intended to ensure that the height-limited boundary points are accurately spatially positioned in terms of the applicable official vertical datum.
All reduced levels in a survey must be in terms of a single official vertical datum, as specified in Schedule 5 (r 18(1)). However, reduced levels in an existing unit title development must be expressed in terms of a previously deposited CSD for the unit title development (r 62(1)).
The Cadastral Survey Amendment Rules 2023 impacting Schedule 5 comes into force on 1 July 2024.
If an unofficial datum was used in a previously deposited CSD for the unit title development, a VCM included in the survey to meet the requirements of rule 18 must have a reduced level in terms of the unit title development (r 62(2)).
VCMs are existing survey marks which have been assigned a height in terms of an official vertical datum with a Landonline order of 3V or better (Schedule 2 and Schedule 6). VCMs serve a similar purpose to Cadastral Survey Network Marks (CSNMs).
Although the inclusion of a VCM replaces the need to include an origin mark in a CSD, the survey report must still include the basis for determining the origin of levels (r 72(e)). This requirement means that the survey report must include a description of the basis for determining the origin of levels, rather than a statement of what the origin of levels is.
For a height-limited boundary point defined by a reduced level, regardless of whether the height-limited boundary point is for a primary or non-primary parcel:
- If one or more VCMs exist within 1,000 m of the new height-limited boundary point, at least one of those VCMs must be included in the survey (r 18(2)).
- If no VCMs exist within 1,000m, a VCM must be included in the survey regardless of its distance from the height limited boundary point (r 18(3)).
Although a VCM must be included in a survey in accordance with rule 18(2) and rule 18(3), this does not mean that the VCM must be connected to a height-limited boundary point by horizontal vectors. An example of where this may arise is a survey which creates height-limited non-primary parcels using a ‘Parcels without Survey Information’ CSD type.
If a VCM is included and is not connected to a height-limited boundary point by horizontal vectors, compliance with the CSR 2021 rule 82(e) can be achieved by including an annotation on the title diagram, comprising of:
- the applicable vertical datum
- the geodetic code and mark name for the VCM
- the reduced level of the VCM.
The vertical datum must also be selected in the Survey Header to ensure compliance with rule 77.
All height limited boundary points required to connect to a VCM, whether on a primary or non-primary parcel, must meet the applicable vertical accuracy standard in rule 20(2).
For further information relating to requirements for VCMs, see:
For information relating to accuracy of connection to VCMs, see:
Description of a height-limited boundary as the surface or bed of a water body
The surface or bed of a water body may be used as a height-limited boundary under rule 12(2)(b). In this case, no boundary points are required to have a reduced level, and the boundary does not need to be referenced to a PRM or connected to a VCM. However, the location of the boundary must be clearly described in a CSD. Inclusion of a cross-section as a plan graphic is a convenient way to achieve this.
Where the surface or bed of a water body has been used as a height-limited boundary, the horizontal extent of the height-limited boundary may coincide with a water boundary. If so, the survey diagram must describe the physical feature used to define the boundary (r 88). Examples include:
- 'Top of bank'
- 'Line of vegetation'
The title diagram must describe the legal position of the boundary (r 104). Examples include:
- ‘Bed of river/lake’
- ‘Annual fullest flow’, for the surface of a river
- ‘Annual highest level’, for the surface of an uncontrolled lake.
Note that the physical description and the legal description of the boundary may be different, depending on the circumstances.
CSD Requirements for height-limited boundaries
A record of survey must include the accuracy class of a height-limited boundary that is mathematically described (r 79). To comply with this requirement, the accuracy class should be recorded on the survey diagram, or any survey data graphics which show the height-limited boundary.
A survey diagram must depict:
- the horizontal and vertical extents of any height-limited parcels included in the CSD (r 83(a))
- the relationship between a height-limited parcel and its boundaries and boundary points in the horizontal and vertical extent (r 83(d))
- the spatial relationship between all primary parcel boundaries on the survey, including the boundaries of height-limited parcels (r 83(e)(i)).
For a height-limited boundary that is mathematically described, the survey diagram must also show enough information to enable the relationship between any position on the height-limited boundary surface and any other boundaries to be accurately ascertained (r 86).
To meet referencing requirements for height-limited boundaries, a survey diagram must also include:
- the reduced level for each of the two PRMs required by rules 34 and 61(5) to have reduced levels (r 82(d))
- the reduced level of a vertical control mark required to be included in the survey by rule 18 and 62(2), in terms of an official vertical datum or unofficial datum respectively (r 82(e)).
A height-limited boundary and related reduced levels must be shown on a survey diagram in a clear and unambiguous manner (r 91(a)). For example, reduced levels must not conflict with declinations or elevations or, in the case of unit developments, be confused with permanent structure boundaries.
A title diagram must depict the horizontal and vertical extents of any height-limited parcels included in the CSD (r 97(1)(a)).
The horizontal extent of a height-limited parcel must be depicted on a title diagram in its entirety on at least one sheet drawn to scale with its boundaries (r 97(3)(a)).
A title diagram must depict a height-limited boundary at a scale that clearly shows the shape and location of the boundary, including vertically, in relation to other boundaries of the parcel (r 102). This may be achieved through the use of a plan graphic included in the CSD.
All information presented on a title diagram and associated plan graphics must be clear and unambiguous (r 107(a)).
Height restrictive covenants – no need for a height-limited boundary
A covenant parcel to be subject to a height restriction is required to be depicted as a non-primary parcel. The parcel must be defined horizontally, but it is at the discretion of the surveyor as to whether or not the parcel is defined vertically – in other words, the parcel may, but does not need to have, a height-limited boundary.
If the covenant parcel is defined vertically by a height-limited boundary, the CSD must comply with the rules relating to reference marks and vertical control marks for height-limited boundaries, and with all CSD requirements for height-limited boundaries.
If the parcel is not defined vertically by a height-limited boundary, it is presumed that the height restriction will be defined in the registrable instrument creating the restriction. In this case, the height restriction will be defined in a manner determined by the parties to the instrument.
Where it is intended that a registrable instrument will define the height, the CSD may include information about the height of the restriction as supporting information (for example, reduced levels for survey marks, datum information, or the survey report expressing an intention to restrict a right). In this case, the survey diagram, title diagram and supporting information must not depict a height-limited boundary or show annotations that seek to describe the height restriction.
Where an existing height-limited boundary for a covenant is adopted, it must be adopted from the source CSD as defined in rule 75(2)(a). It is not necessary to include information from the source CSD that defines the extent of the boundary, which may include a height origin, level and source, bench marks, heights and heighted boundary marks. However, the source CSD for the height-limited boundary should be clearly identified, so that the information can be easily located by future surveyors.
Special requirements for parcels with height-limited boundaries
The following requirements apply to parcels which are defined by one or more height-limited boundaries:
- If a new parcel has a height-limited boundary, all of the three-dimensional space occupied by the existing primary parcel(s) being extinguished must be included in one or more new primary parcels, residue parcels or balance parcels (r 39(3)).
- If the shape of a parcel varies with height, the area of the parcel must be calculated from the widest extent of the parcel when vertically projected onto a horizontal plane (r 41(4)). This principle applies in all cases, including parcels that are in airspace or underground, or are made up of various floors at different heights. This principle can also result in parcels appearing to overlap one another.
- Appellations for primary and non-primary parcels which have a height-limited boundary must have the prefix ‘Height-Limited’ before ‘Lot’, ‘Section’, or ‘Area’ (r 43).