Published date

The extraordinary year of 2020 is (thankfully, some might say) passing us by at a rate of knots.

With a matter of weeks to go until the summer holidays, we’re full steam ahead to ensure you have the open data you need to help you get where you are going, inform decisions and prepare for environmental change.

Follow us on Twitter for more up to date news from the LINZ Data Service – and to check out some awesome data visualisations.

New Zealand in high definition with the new LINZ Basemaps service

Aerial view of Lyttelton Harbour/Whakaraupō

Lyttelton Harbour/Whakaraupō. Source: LINZ Basemaps

If you haven’t heard the news, the latest product release from LINZ is our new Aerial Imagery Basemap. This Basemap combines LINZ high resolution aerial imagery down to 5cm in urban areas and 10m satellite imagery to provide full coverage of mainland New Zealand, Chathams and other offshore islands.

This purpose-built product, streams map tiles direct from the Cloud for significant improvements in quality and performance over the Aerial Imagery set available through the LINZ Data Service. If you’re using the set, we encourage you to transition to the new Basemap service.

To support our Esri customers, the Aerial Imagery Basemap API is also available via ArcGIS Online, in Web Mercator and NZTM tile sets. (See the story below).

We’ve already made improvements to the product since its public release in August – adding dynamic data attribution to the Basemaps site to help you better understand the currency of the data you’re exploring, and updating the Basemap with new high resolution urban imagery for Christchurch.

Explore the new Aerial Imagery Basemap then grab an API key to get mapping.

LINZ Aerial Imagery Basemap

LINZ Aerial Imagery Basemap at Base Data NZ

Supporting local with NZ Localities

Map showing suburbs and bays from Takapuna and down to Devonport, and as far east as Northcote

Visualisation of Fire and Emergency NZ Localities dataset

In other awesome news, the Fire and Emergency NZ Localities dataset is now available on the LINZ Data Service for reuse under a Creative Commons BY 4.0 Licence. This much desired dataset provides suburbs (urban areas) and localities (rural areas) for all New Zealand.

Maintained by Fire and Emergency New Zealand, the dataset has been made available via the LINZ Data Service as part of LINZ’s key datasets for resilience and climate change programme. The programme co-ordinates and promotes the use of geographic data to support New Zealand to prepare for and respond to emergencies and climate change events.

To further support this programme of work (and indeed all customers who want to use it), the Fire and Emergency NZ Localities dataset has also been made available as an ArcGIS REST service for easy discovery and integration in Esri products.

Fire and Emergency NZ Localities on LDS

Fire and Emergency Localities Esri REST service at Base Data NZ

Esri REST services now available

As part of LINZ’s resilience and climate change programme, we have made 11 key datasets available as ArcGIS REST services for easy discovery and integration into Esri products, including the recently published Fire and Emergency NZ Localities dataset. The new LINZ Aerial Imagery Basemap WMTS API is also available.

Find Esri REST services at Base Data NZ

Plug into LINZ data with QGIS

For customers who use the open source GIS application QGIS, we have recently released an update to the LINZ Data Importer QGIS Plugin – the most notable change is the addition of the new LINZ Basemaps data source. Install the plugin for the easy discovery and import of LINZ data into QGIS. Once you have added your API key, simply search for and add any LINZ Basemaps or LDS WTMS or WFS layer to the map.

LINZ Data Importer QGIS Plugin

Building outlines coverage target in sight

Map of New Zealand indicating current building outline coverage as well as work planned for 2020/21

We love that you love our building outlines data. It continues to be one of our most popular datasets of all time despite its release in only May last year. With such a following and demand for more and better data, we have continued to make regular updates to the data and extensions to coverage. During the year we have updated the dataset eight times, adding 420,000 outlines and updating 72,000 outlines as new imagery data became available.

By the end of this year, we will have building outline coverage for all populated areas where aerial imagery is available. We will also continue to update older data, with Waikato and South Canterbury up next for a refresh.

With the coverage element under control, our focus will shift to attribution. The first step you’ll benefit from is the addition of building name and usage attribution (e.g. hospital, hut, school, and university) from Topo50 data to the outlines dataset by June next year.

NZ Building Outlines on LDS

NZ Building Outlines Esri REST service on Base Data NZ

GrowGISNZ GeoBites online workshops

Join the Geospatial Capability Team at LINZ for two free online learning programmes - GrowGISNZ GeoBites and Ngā Poutama Matawhenua – aimed at increasing effective use of geographic and property information in the wider GIS community and also for those working for and in Māori communities in particular.

Through this series, you’ll learn new skills, increase technical understanding, improve access and awareness of data and its use, as well as discover and share good practices, useful tools and resources.

You’ll hear from geospatial specialists on topics like:

  • Find, access, and use open GIS data webservices.
  • Topographic Data: Finding and using New Zealand’s popular GIS data layers.
  • Good practices for file naming and data management.

GrowGISNZ GeoBites - practical demos and talks for geospatial practitioners

Ngā Poutama Matawhenua | Practical Māori GIS Mapping Wānanga

Have your say on connecting property data

If you work regularly with our property data, check out the Property Data Management Framework (PDMF) discussion document from LINZ. The PDMF presents a model for connecting property data, such as address, parcel, titles, buildings, and rating units.

We are seeking feedback from senior managers and technical practitioners responsible for property information in local and central government, and the private sector on what a property is and on the model that describes how the data connects.

More information on the PDMF and how to submit feedback

Keeping property parcels in shape

Aerial views of Waiawa Substation

Waipawa Substation before (left) and after (right) spatial improvement

For many of you, working day to day with LINZ property data, the accuracy of this data is a fundamental. As the demand for greater data accuracy continues to rise, LINZ’s Spatial Requests team can respond to your enquiries to investigate and improve the spatial accuracy of parcel data held in Landonline. In turn, you will see these changes reflected weekly as improvements to the spatial accuracy of property boundaries in the NZ Primary Parcels dataset on LDS, and in the NZ Non-Primary Parcels dataset holding the service and access easement rights.

An ongoing collaboration between the Spatial Requests team and transmission company Transpower has seen the spatial accuracy of the boundaries of its electricity sub-stations improved massively for better asset management. Reliable survey data was applied to the parcel improving the spatial accuracy. The images above show the Waipawa Substation (Hawke’s Bay) parcel data before and after the upgrade.

The team has also been working with the Walking Access Commission to capture easements as spatial parcels to provide New Zealanders with even better walking access to the outdoors.

If you have a request related to spatial parcel accuracy, contact the Spatial Requests team at

Historic imagery scanning continues

Retrolens lets you explore an incredible archive of historic photos. We’re really pleased to now be entering the final phase of the Historical Aerial Imagery Scanning project, with the signing in early October of a renewed contract between LINZ and WSP NZ.

This phase will expand the archive even further through the digitisation of the New Zealand Aerial Mapping films in the Crown Aerial Film Archive. Scanning of these films is already underway in tandem with the remainder of the Crown films.  The latter is on schedule to be completed by early 2021, with more than 515,000 photo negatives already scanned. 

Look out for an update of the NZ Aerial Photo Footprints dataset later this year which will include records of new images scanned from January - October 2020. 

Making it easier to find data on LDS

Once again, we want to send a big thank to those of you who contributed to our customer satisfaction survey this year, especially to those who took the time to provide detailed feedback on how we can make LDS better for you.

We were really chuffed with the results this year, which saw you award us another awesome satisfaction rating. We’re working through the feedback now and will be using it to improve our service to you.

In last year’s survey, the most frequently mentioned pain-point you shared with us was issues related to searching and finding data. We listened to your feedback and back in July rolled out improvements to data discoverability on LDS. We’ve made changes to the LDS search to improve the relevance of search results, including making it easier for you to find the latest LINZ aerial imagery.

We’ve got other improvements in development which will enable to you star or favourite datasets that you use frequently and perform power searches based on dataset characteristics, such as data type and sub-type, date ranges, resolution and more.

Other data bits


This year’s releases include new aerial imagery for Christchurch City, Otago and the Waikato, and satellite imagery for mainland NZ, as well as the first ever release of satellite imagery for the Chatham Islands. Coming to you over the next few months is new urban imagery for Palmerston North, Porirua, and the Hurunui and Selwyn districts.


Our latest LiDAR release is awesome new LiDAR for Wellington City (2019). Captured at 16 pluses per square meter, it is our most dense LiDAR published yet. See this data in action in a 3D fly-through. Check out all the latest LiDAR on LDS.

Helping you use LiDAR data

See our latest On Location blog post to learn how to identify individual trees using our open point cloud data. Using R, we can extract valuable information from unclassified points.


If you love beautiful maps, follow the #30DayMapChallenge on Twitter this month to fill your cartographic cup.


Media contact

Email: or phone: 027 566 5251