Geospatial Data and Software

Geospatial data and software

Geographic Information Science uses software such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to manage, analyse and display data. "Every GIS comprises of 5 elements: computer hardware, software, data, personnel to run the system & a set of institutional arrangements to support the other components" (Aronoff,1989)


Geospatial data is increasingly available on the internet from the following links. Some larger datasets that have already been obtained are available on the UC network - see below.

The Local Geospatial Data Collection represents a number of datasets obtained over the years and retained due to size. In many cases it may be best to find the source in the links above and crop and download your area of interest.


To access this data, users of UC Windows computers can make a network connection to \\file\bulk\geodata (no password required) by selecting Computer> Map network drive. Non-UC computer users must 'Connect using different credentials' and enter your UC username preceded with uocnt (e.g. uocnt\<yourusername>) plus password. This connection has a series of sub directories with short and hopefully meaningful names, described below.


  • world_esri: world from Esri Data and Maps for ArcGIS 2018.
  • world_gadm: Global Administrative Areas as of January 2012 from
  • world3m: World @ 1:3M scale - Digital Chart of the World as of the early 1990’s.
  • world10m: World @ 1:10M scale – Esri Sample Data as of the late 1990’s.


  • Chch: miscellaneous data sets...
    • CCC: Christchurch City Council building footprints and street centrelines
    • CERA: Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority technical categories at 2013-12-04 and Land Check Colour Zones 2011 thru 2012.
    • ch_airphotos: AirphotoMosaics.gdb contains seamless ArcGIS mosaics of the individual images in the sub folders.
      1. Greyscale_late_1990s_50cm NZMG airphotos from the late 1990's.
      2. Colour_24feb2001_10cm NZTM imagery post earthquake.
      3. Ch_CBD_QuickBird_25May2007_95cm.jpg NZMG
    • ch_bus: Bus Stops 2001 & Routes for 1991, 96, 01, & 05.
    • UC: University of Canterbury campus drawings from Facilities Management.
  • Climate: NZ Climate Surfaces of New Zealand (NZMG) - estimates of mean annual temperature, wind speed etc.
  • CRS: NZ Core Record System (NZTM) cadastral boundaries, roads, & more as at Jan 2006, for ArcGIS9 from EAGLE Technology ex LINZ.
  • DEMs: Digital Elevation Models: New Zealand 8m resolution (NZTM); North and South Island 25m (integer) and 25m_r (real precision), and 500m resolutions (NZMG); Christchurch 15m resolution - Height Corrected (NZTM) from the LRIS portal.
  • Geocode\arcwebNZ9.1: Address geocoding tools (NZTM) for ArcGIS from EAGLE Technology based on address points, v11_jun_2006 first purchased in June 2004, product discontinued but still useable. Speak to John Thyne about other options.
  • Geology:
    1. QMAP_NZ_1M - a seamless version of the 21 QMAP maps @ 1:1,000,000 (NZGD_2000_NZ_Continental_Shelf_2000) including the geology of the Kermadec, Bounty, Snares, Antipodes, Auckland, and Campbell islands. Double-click on the exe to browse the contents; open the ArcMap, ArcReader or QGIS documents in the Data folder; view metadata in the Texts folder.
    2. QMAP_NZ_250K - a seamless version of the 21 QMAP maps @ 1:250,000 (NZTM). Double-click on the exe to browse the contents; open the ArcMap, ArcReader or QGIS documents in the Data folder; view metadata in the Texts folder.
    3. QMAPs - the 21 separate QMAP maps @ 1:250,000 (NZMG) as copied from CD. When browsing the data be sure to run and read the Start_Here.exe for each region. There are existing ArcGIS map documents (*.mxd) in each regions qmap folder, or you can individually load the underlying data from the qmap\data folder.
  • KiwImage: NZ and Offshore Islands imagery captured by DigitalGlobe using the Quickbird II satellite. The ~15TB of data includes three 'products' (see below, and the memorandum of understanding for more detail including a map sheet index of what's available). Access to and use of this data requires sign-off with John Thyne. The data is tiled to the NZTM NZTopo50 map series - see the spreadsheet and shapefiles in the KiwImage Metadata> Metadata NZTopo50 sheets folders for information on individual tiles, while date of capture is in the North Is and South Is sub-folders. The data coverage is incomplete - for more information see the LINZ website.
    1. Basic Product (2.4m Multi-spectral and 0.6m Panchromatic suitable for image analysis).
    2. Bundle Product (2.4m Multi-spectral and 0.6m Panchromatic suitable for image analysis)
    3. Natural Colour Product (Pan Sharpened) (0.6m ortho-rectified, colour-balanced RGB mosaic appropriate for use in a GIS-environment)
  • LCDB: Land Cover Database version 4.0 (NZTM) polygon features representing the land cover type at each of four periods; the summers of 1996/97, 2001/02, 2008/09 and 2012/13.") | the LCDB folder also contains a simplified version of Agribase (NZMG) from Dec 2000, a national spatial farm database showing major farm types on pastoral land.
  • LENZ: Land Environments of New Zealand (NZMG) 2003.
  • LiDAR: The data listed below is stored ‘as received’ – i.e. a mix of raw point cloud data and processed products (e.g. DEM, DSM, ortho-photos and mosaics), in different formats, tile layouts, and projections, some with metadata, some without, and some restricted access. Make of it what you can - in many cases it may be best to go to the source and crop and download your area of interest. To see what’s available, including metadata, check the LINZ Data Service Elevation Survey index or Canterbury Maps.
    1. Auckland - 2005-08 (NZTM)
    2. Christchurch
      1. 2003_07_06 (NZMG) - restricted access, CCC agreement required.
      2. 2010_09_05 (NZTM) - restricted access, ECAN agreement required.
      3. 2011_03_08 (NZTM) 
      4. 2011_05_20 (NZTM) 
    3. Halswell_Ellesmere_2008 (NZMG) - data is not as described in the metadata but supplied as points in an ArcGIS geodatabase, and as XYZ values in *.txt files.
    4. Hope Fault LiDAR 2015 - extents and metadata only (restricted access).
    5. Kaikoura_Hurunui 2012/13 (NZTM) - metadata PDF's are in the sub-folders.
    6. Kaikoura PostEQ 2016 (NZTM) – from a Geology server, no metadata.
    7. Rangiora 2014 FPFA1064 (NZTM) - metadata PDF's are in the sub-folders.
    8. Rolleston_2016 (NZTM)
    9. Tekapo_LiDAR 2016 (NZTM)
    10. Waimakariri_2003_05 (NZMG)
  • LINZ > AirPhotos: photo and survey footprints from the LINZ Data Service (LDS) - try RetroLens.
    1. BrewsterGlacier - High-res ungeoreferenced tifs, survey number SN* 1053 & 5941.
    2. Edgecumbe - High-res ungeoreferenced tifs, survey number SN* 256, 596, 1409, 1883, 1906, 1908, 3486, 3580, 5379, 5433, 5977, 8240, 8732, & 8763.
    3. Tongariro - High-res ungeoreferenced tifs, survey number SN* 171, 554, 853, 1035, 2853, 5021, 5053, 5147, 5752, 8280, 8440, & 9990C.
    4. LDS-historic-aerial-photos-photo-footprints-1936-2005-FGDB
    5. LDS-historic-aerial-photos-survey-footprints-crown-1936-2005-FGDB
  • Lucas: Land Use and Carbon Analysis System Programme - SPOT-5 multispectral images suited to vegetation classification (for years 2013, and 2016 – 2019, @ 10m resolution, NZTM), plus control images and metadata feature classes with capture dates,. Please see the Terms of Use and End User Agreement License for permitted uses by UC, which include teaching and research but not commercial gain.
  • nzTopo50_NZMG: released ~2000 NZ @ 1:50K scale Topo data from Terralink NZ – superseded by the nzTopo50_NZTM or online basemaps.
  • nzTopo50_NZTM: released in 2009 tiled to the NZTopo50 map series – the top level folder has indexes to the North & South Island map sheets in PDF format, and a complete NZ_coastline_and_islands.
  • StatisticsNZ: Selected census boundaries and tabular data.


UC has a site license for ArcGIS Desktop from Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) that covers non-commercial use by students and staff. ArcGIS runs natively in Windows and can be installed on University computers from Software Centre. On-campus ArcGIS uses a Concurrent Use license server, while UC laptops working off-campus require a VPN connection to see this, or a borrowed license - borrowing is a must for off-line use.

MacOSX and Linux users can run it in Windows via Bootcamp or a VM. Esri don’t provide instructions, but this article ArcGIS Pro in Mac OSX is helpful. An alternative is QGIS which is multi-platform and free and open source (and also available on University computers via Software Centre).

ArcGIS Desktop v10.x (32-bit ArcMap): On-campus, run ArcGIS Administrator then select Borrow/Return and select just the licenses you want to borrow – more licenses take more time to check out. The borrow period will time out on the maximum borrow limit (365 days) or the annual license expiry date (30 January), whichever is first.

ArcGIS Pro v2.x (64-bit): On-campus, run ArcGIS Pro and go to Settings> Licensing and check on ‘Authorize ArcGIS Pro to work offline’. The borrow period will time out on the maximum borrow limit (365 days) or the annual license expiry date (30 January), whichever is first.

Check that your computer meets the ArcGIS Desktop system requirements for the required product/version, then email John Thyne for a license confirming that you are running Windows and specifying your course code and which ArcGIS Desktop product/version you require:

v10.x (32-bit ArcMap) which requires a Single Use license activated with an authorization code that lasts for 1-year from the date of activation.


v2.x (64-bit ArcPro) which requires a Named User license with Enterprise login that lasts for the duration of your UC login account.

  • Enable the extensions: in ArcMap use the Main Menu> Customize> Extensions…; in ArcGIS Pro use Project> Licensing> and under Settings click Configure your licensing options.
  • Keep folder and file names short and simple - start with a character a to z, while trailing numbers and underscores are OK. This also applies to column header names in tabular data. Note that 32bit ArcMap can’t access tabular data in 64bit Excel, so export this as comma separated values (*.CSV format).
  • Set relative paths to make projects transportable between different drives (assumes everything is in one 'project' folder): in ArcMap use the Main Menu> Customize> ArcMap Options…; in ArcGIS Pro this is not required, but you can check in Project> Options> Current Settings.
  • Create a File Geodatabase for each project, in that project folder. A file geodatabase is a smart folder that stores raster and vector data much more efficiently than file based GRID’s and shapefiles: in ArcMap use Catalog to right click your project folder; ArcGIS Pro does this automatically for each project.
  • Work locally (i.e. on your local hard disk or a USB3 external drive) as network speed and latency can significantly slow you down and cause crashes (PS: you'll need to backup manually!).

Tutorial data

Tutorial data is available on campus by mapping a drive to \\file\bulk\geodata\Esri (if prompted for your UC username prefix it with uocnt e.g. uocnt\<yourusername>). Here you will find a folder called ArcTutor containing tutorial files (~9GB) for past and present Esri ArcGIS Desktop software.

Need more information?

Contact our GIS Manager and Support person:

John Thyne

GIS Manager - Computer Support
Ernest Rutherford 263D
Internal Phone: 94102