Geospatial Data and Software

Geospatial data and software - GEOGRAPHY

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 on a UC Windows computer select Computer> Map network drive and make a network connection to \\file\bulk\geodata (no password required). 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. Many directories contain metadata - use is at your own discretion.


  • 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.
  • Global Relief Model: the ETOPO1_Ice_g_geotiff folder contains a 1 arc-minute global relief model of Earth's "Ice Surface" (top of Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets). Not downloaded here is a "Bedrock Surface" (base of the ice sheets). -


  • Chch: miscellaneous data sets...
    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
    • 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.
    • 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 in current and old projections:
    • NZTM (current projection):
      • NZ_DEMs_25m_r_nztm ex Landcare LRIS Portal in 2021;
      • NZ_SOS_15m_DEMs ex School of Surveying 2010 - incomplete;
      • nzdem_8m_nztm ex Geographx - suitable primarily for cartographic visualisation, not terrain analysis;
      • christchurch_15m_nztm ex LRIS Portal in 2014;
      • Chch_Selwyn_1m_DEM_nztm LiDAR derived DEM 2011 + 2016.
    • NZMG (because I'm reluctant to delete anything): North and South Island 25m (integer); and 25m_r (real precision, in 4 parts); and 500m;
  • 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 the Kiwimage MOU LINZ UC for more detail including a map sheet index of what's available). Access to and use of this data requires Kiwimage data UC access sign-off. 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 or Elevation Aotearoa.
    1. Auckland - 2005-08 (NZTM)
    2. Christchurch
      1. 2003_07_06 (NZMG) - CCC LiDAR 2003 readme gridded ground dataCCC LiDAR 2003 intensity and trajectory data | restricted access: CCC LiDAR 2003 access sign-off.
      2. 2010_09_05 (NZTM) - ECAN UC 2010 LiDAR Overview | restricted access: ECAN UC 2010 LiDAR sigh-off.
      3. 2011_03_08 (NZTM) 
      4. 2011_05_20 (NZTM) 
      5. CGD_5mDEMs_2003_2012 (NZTM) - Canterbury Geotechnical Database, a suite of 5m DEMs derived from Aerial LiDAR surveys flown before, between and after each of the major earthquakes in the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence for insurance assessments and reconstruction work.
    3. Christchurch_Selwyn_2015 (NZTM) - DEM only and tile index
    4. 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.
    5. Hope Fault LiDAR 2015 - extents and metadata only (restricted access).
    6. Kaikoura_Hurunui 2012/13 (NZTM) - metadata PDF's are in the sub-folders.
    7. Kaikoura PostEQ 2016 (NZTM) – from a Geology server, no metadata.
    8. Rangiora 2014 FPFA1064 (NZTM) - metadata PDF's are in the sub-folders.
    9. Rolleston_2016 (NZTM)
    10. Tekapo_LiDAR 2016 (NZTM)
    11. 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

   > lds-nz-road-centrelines-topo-150k-FGDB: 1:50K Road Centerlines from the LINZ Data Service (LDS)

  • Lucas: Land Use and Carbon Analysis System Programme - SPOT-5 and Sentinel2 multispectral images suited to vegetation classification (for years 2013, and 2016 – 2021, @ 10m resolution, NZTM), plus control images and metadata feature classes with capture dates. Please see the Terms of Use and End User License Agreement (EULA) for permitted uses by UC, which cover teaching and research. NOTE: 1) “aref” = actual reflectance (includes atmospheric corrections and Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function (BRDF) corrections – please see attached metadata describing that) and 2) “sref” = standardised reflectance, which additionally removes terrain shading effects and masks out all cloud. 
  • NIWA New Zealand bathymetry: NZBathy_2016_shape (vectors) and NZBathy_DTM_2016_binary_grid (WGS84 datum) - Further information
  • nzRoad_network: (NZTM) a road network analysis layer with travel time estimates, developed by UC's GeoHealth Lab in ~2016, using Open-source Data (New Zealand Open GPS project (NZOGPS). To use this in ArcGIS, map a drive to \\file\bulk\geodata, then make a folder connection to it in ArcMap Catalog, then open the NZ\nzRoad_network\nzogps_240215_nal.gdb and drag in the nzogps_240215_nal Feature Dataset (i.e. the network comprised of three feature classes), and you should be in business.
  • 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 range of geospatial software from proprietary to free and open source. Perhaps the main geospatial software is ArcGIS from Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri), for which UC has an educational site license that covers use by students and staff. Note that licenses require annual renewal on 30 January - this is automatic for UC computers, while home use license files will be made available alongside the install files.

  • ArcGIS on UC computers can be installed and licensed from Software Centre while on campus, while off campus use requires a full VPN login connection from ITS to be able to see the on campus Concurrent User license manager. Concurrent licenses can also be borrowed for off campus use - this is a must for off-grid use on a UC laptop - see below.
  • ArcGIS home use on student and staff computers is enabled by obtaining install files and Single User licenses from the UC network - see below.

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.

Note for Mac users: ArcGIS runs natively in Windows, but can be run on a Mac in a virtual environment such as Parallels, or a Windows partition using Boot Camp. 

Home use versions of ArcGIS* desktop software can be obtained from UC’s network (as described below), where you will find folders containing the install executables (*.EXE) and Single Use License provisioning files (*.PRVC), plus a *.PDF overview document and *.MP4 video of the precise install and licensing steps.

The version you need (i.e. the old 32bit ArcGIS Desktop v10.x (ArcMap), or the new 64bit ArcGIS Pro v2.x), will depend on what is used in your coursework, while thesis students should probably use ArcGIS Pro as ArcMap is no longer in development.

License files expire at the end of January each year (the UC Esri site license anniversary), at which time you’ll need to obtain a new license file to re-Authorize the software. Updating the software at this stage is optional, and if you stay with your current version then just start the license wizard as in step 4 below to read in the new authorization file as in step 3 below.

These files are for educational use only, and it is your responsibility to abide by Esri’s Terms of Use. Installation is straight forward providing you meet the system requirements and follow the instructions.

  1. Check that your computer meets the system requirements for ArcGIS ArcMap or ArcGIS Pro .

  2. On-campus, connect to the UC network to copy the required install and license files; Off-campus you'll need to remote log in to a Student Workroom to connect to the UC network, as in a. below:

    a. Logon to a UC Windows computer, open Windows File Explorer, select This PC, then the Computer tab, and use ‘Map network drive’ to connect to \\file\bulk\geodata\Esri (no password required). Copy the respective ArcGIS_ArcMap (~2.2GB) or ArcGIS_Pro (~3.7GB) folder from the UC network to a USB or your OneDrive or PC.

    b. On a non-UC Windows computer on campus (i.e. your own laptop while on campus) open Windows File Explorer, select This PC, then the Computer tab, and use ‘Map network drive’ to connect to \\file\bulk\geodata\Esri, and additionally 'Connect using different credentials' to enter your UC username preceded with uocnt\ (e.g. uocnt\<yourusername>) plus password. Copy the respective ArcGIS_ArcMap (0.99GB) or ArcGIS_Pro (1.42GB) folder from the UC network to your PC.

  3. On your home computer, paste the ArcGIS* folder into C:\Temp (create this if it doesn't exist), then open and double-click the install *.EXE executable and follow the prompts, accepting all the defaults and agreeing to the terms and conditions. When installation finishes and the license wizard starts up, for:

    a. ArcMap - set the software product to Advanced (ArcInfo) Single Use, then click Authorize Now..., and 'I have received an authorization file and am now ready to finish the authorization process’ and Browse to select the PRVC file, then continue to enter the required personal information and accept all further defaults.

    b. ArcGIS Pro - if ArcGIS Pro starts up and prompts for a login, click Configure your licensing options and set License Type to Single Use License, License Level to Advanced, then click Authorize; in the Software Authorization Wizard select 'I have received an authorization file and am now ready to finish the authorization process’ and Browse to select the PRVC file, then continue to enter the required personal information and accept all further defaults.

  4. Check the license authorization status:

    a. ArcMap: Run ArcGIS Administrator and select Desktop to ensure that the software product is set to “Advanced (ArcInfo) Single Use”, and then select Availability to view the status. In ArcMap use Customize> Extensions… to enable the required extensions, and Customize> ArcMap Options… General tab to Make relative paths the default… so that your work is transportable between file systems (assuming that everything is in one 'project' folder).

    b. ArcGIS Pro: Run ArcGIS Pro and go to Settings> Licensing> Configure your licensing options where License Type must be Single Use License and License Level: Advanced.
  • Extensions: These may not be enabled by default, so...
    1. in ArcMap use the Main Menu> Customize> Extensions.
    2. in ArcGIS Pro use Project> Licensing> and under Settings click Configure your licensing options.

  • Naming conventions: Keep folder and file names short and simple - use only alpha+numeric characters, starting with a letter 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).

  • Project folders: Make projects transportable by keeping everything for each 'project' in one folder:
    1. in ArcMap use the Main Menu> Customize> ArcMap Options… General tab to Make relative paths the default.
    2. in ArcGIS Pro this is not necessary, but you can check in Project> Options> Current Settings.

  • Project geodatabase: A file geodatabase is a smart folder that stores raster and vector data much more efficiently than file based GRID’s and shapefiles:
    1. in ArcMap use Catalog to right click your project folder to create a new File Geodatabase for each project, in that project folder.
    2. in ArcGIS Pro automatically creates a file geodatabase for each new project.

  • Speed and Stability: The closer your data is located to your computer the better. Recommended options in order of preference are:
    1. OneDrive - University of Canterbury - working files are automatically downloaded to the local C drive for speed and synced to the cloud for access and backup.
    2. the C:\Local\<yourusername> folder - this is secured to your login - requires manual back up.
    3. a USB3 external drive or better (USB2 is too slow) - requires manual back up.
    4. your P drive - this has been found to be too slow for ArcGIS.
  • Troubleshooting Performance Issues in ArcGIS Pro

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.

ArcGIS help

  • Esri Academy: Free training can be accessed with an Esri/ArcGIS 'free' public account, while training that requires 'maintenance' can be accessed with a UC ArcGIS Online 'organisation' account obtained from the School of Earth and Environment's GIS Manager. The latter are available for UC staff and enrolled students with UC IT login accounts.

  • YouTube: Another great resource:
    1. For ArcMap search for keywords that include the software such as 'arcmap basics', or to create a map layout see How to make a simple map in ArcMap.
    2. For ArcGIS Pro search for 'arcgis pro basics', or to create a map layout see Make a layout in ArcGIS Pro.

Geological mapping