30 April 2019

Mysteries of New Zealand’s deep south are rising to the surface as Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) undertakes 3D mapping of the seabed in the far reaches of Fiordland.

LINZ has contracted marine survey company, iXblue to carry out hydrographic surveys in Dusky, Doubtful, Thompson, and Bradshaw sounds. 

The company is using one unmanned and three manned vessels to capture images of the seabed which is up to 400m deep in places.

The marine data will be used to update navigational charts for commercial and recreational mariners who operate in the area, ensuring they can chart a safe passage through the remote area. 

The information will also be made freely available to support marine research and sustainable management of Fiordland’s pristine environment.

Survey work began with deploying tide gauges and installing survey benchmarks at key areas around Doubtful Sound, before moving to Dusky Sound.

Weather permitting surveying will conclude in early May 2019 and data will be submitted to LINZ in late 2019 for publication in 2020. 


Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) has prioritised marine areas where the latest navigation information will be most beneficial to support shipping, fishing, recreation, and tourism.

These are set out in the agency’s ‘HYPLAN’ released in April 2017 which identifies areas around the country where the agency will carry out surveys of the sea floor over the next five to ten years.

Sonar image of Dusky Sound
Early results from the Fiordland hydrographic survey using sonar technology show the range of depths at the southern entrance of Dusky Sound. The white gap in the middle of Dusky Sound was surveyed in 2007 so is not included in the displayed survey coverage. Source: LINZ/iXblue, April 2019. Click for larger version.

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