Geospatial data

Geospatial, spatial or location-based data

Maps, aerial and satellite images, GIS (Geographic Information Systems) layers or files, LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and some forms of tabular data, e.g., census statistics, are common types of geospatial data. In the broadest terms, geospatial data or information identifies a location on earth.

New Zealand

  • Koordinates
    Geospatial data/GIS layers (aerial and satellite images, boundaries and administration, cadastral and property, contours and terrain, DEM, science and environment, census and statistics, topographic, transportation and utilities) from a wide range of sources; use the map interface to search, preview, crop and download data.
  • LINZ Data Service
    Use for complete and up-to-date geospatial data/GIS layers created by, or on behalf of, Land Information New Zealand | Toitū Te Whenua including geodetic, hydrographic, property and boundary, and topographic data; search, preview, crop and download data from this map interface.
  • New Zealand Community Profile
    Census data from 2013, 2006 and 2001 at the national, regional, and territorial unit level and presented as tables and charts; data may be viewed online or downloaded.
  • GeoDataHub
    Link to the School of Environment data share drive to access GIS files, including data from Auckland Council, KiwImage (high resolution New Zealand satellite imagery), a 15m DEM and more.
  • Auckland Council GeoMaps
    Public access to Auckland Council GIS layers - property and rates, aerial photographs, boundaries, underground services, contours, district plan, and more - preview, manipulate, eg, draw polygons to estimate parameter and area, or download.
  • Katalyst Business
    A New Zealand business directory containing information on a company's executives, branches, localities, a list of products and services, brief financials, trade and brand names.

What is geospatial data? | Library resources | New Zealand resources | International resources | Internet search tips

What is geospatial data?

Also known as location-based or spatial data, geospatial data comes in a range of forms including maps, aerial and satellite images, GIS (Geographic Information Systems) layers or files, LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and some forms of tabular data, e.g., census statistics. Regardless of the type, format, or purpose of the data or information, geospatial data always has a location or place in the real world.

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Library resources

  • Library databases
    Search for geospatial to find all Library databases with significant amounts of this type of data.
    Refine a subject search by selecting Geospatial data as the Database type (far right of screen). E.g., search for planning, then refine by Geospatial data.
  • Use the Catalogue to find datasets (CD-ROM), maps and aerial photographs in the University of Auckland Library’s notable collection.
  • Visit the General Library Map Room for access to sheet maps (including historic, geological, property, etc.) atlases and aerial photographs.

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New Zealand resources

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International resources

Many online GIS, notably ArcGIS Online and Google Earth, have significant data resources/GIS layers/base maps available within the application.

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Internet search tips

  • Include geospatial, GIS, map(s) with your location and/or subject search.
    For example, type Marshall Islands sea-level change GIS 
  • Knowledge of different projections and coordinate systems may help in finding and using geospatial data to best meet your needs.

Significant national, regional, international or subject-based sources of geospatial data are available.

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Image: 1940 and 2008 aerials side by side, Auckland Council.

About imagery | New Zealand resources | International resources

About imagery

Satellite, including Landsat, and aerial photographs are collectively known as 'imagery'.

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New Zealand resources

  • Auckland Council GeoMaps
  • GeoDataHub
    • Aerial imagery - regional (historic and current Auckland, Waikato)
    • KiwImage (pansharpened) - 2008-2012 satellite imagery of approximately 74% of New Zealand and Offshore Islands, tiled to NZTopo50 sheets. See KiwImage coverage.
    • NZ Aerial Mapping (Piha, Waihiki, plus)
  • LINZ Data Service - Aerial photos
    Current and some older aerial photographs are available by region. Search by location or Browse Data by Category - Aerial Photos; add (+) to preview, crop and download. For further information, go to Getting started.

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International resources

  • ArcGIS Gallery - Imagery
  • EarthExplorer, USGS
  • Landsat, USGS
    40+ years of continuously acquired collection of space-based moderate-resolution land remote sensing data. Provides a unique resource for those who work in agriculture, emergency response, geology, forestry, regional planning, education, mapping, global change research.

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Image: ArcGIS Online, a user-friendly GIS or web mapping tool.

About GIS | GIS at the University of Auckland | GIS on the web | International inspiration | Map making without GIS

About Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

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GIS at the University of Auckland

GIS are used widely across the University of Auckland, notably within the Schools and Departments of Environment, Architecture and Planning, Anthropology, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Property, Population Health and Biological Sciences and by individuals in further areas.

GIS and GIScience, the study of GIS, is taught in the School of Environment.


Access ArcGIS for Staff

Access ArcGIS for Students

ArcGIS for desktop help

ArcGIS Online

  • ArcGIS Online is a more user-friendly GIS than ArcGIS for desktop and enables map creation, some analysis, sharing and access to data and resources. It supports a number of file types, primarily Shapefiles or .shp files.

Story Maps, which utilises ArcGIS Online, offers a Gallery of story map apps, examples and step-by-step templates to create your own web map.

Google Earth

  • Google Earth is a free online GIS. A user-friendly GIS better suited to more straightforward functions and the inexperienced GIS user than ArcGIS for desktop. It supports .kml files.

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GIS on the web

In addition to Google Earth and ArcGIS Online several open source and/or free GIS software options are available, including those more suitable for inexperienced GIS users. Online GIS have increasing amounts of data, e.g., base maps and GIS layers, available for use within the application.

List of GIS software

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International inspiration

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Map making without GIS

Tools used to make maps and geovisualisations that are not GIS:

  • Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
    Available in the Information Commons facilities.
  • Autodesk 3D MAX
  • Google Fusion Tables
  • R Statistical Package 3
    Available in the Information Commons facilities. Search Google for 'making maps with R' for advice.

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Geospatial resource referencing


  • Referencing
    Access a range of tools and support materials to assist your referencing work.


  • Quickcite
    Use this interactive tool to view examples of references.
    Covers a range of styles used at the University of Auckland.

Last updated : 16 November 2022
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