Cartography of New Zealand

The cartography of New Zealand is the history of surveying and creation of maps of New Zealand. Surveying in New Zealand began with the arrival of Abel Tasman in the mid 17th century.[1] Cartography and surveying have developed in incremental steps since that time till the integration of New Zealand into a global system based on GPS and the New Zealand Geodetic Datum 2000.[2]

First map of New Zealand 1644 and Map of the Pacific Ocean, showing the fictitious great southern continent 1690.
Map of New Zealand by James Cook 1770, next to the modern version.
Sketch of Dusky Sound in New Zealand 1773 and plan of the town and part of the settlement of New Plymouth 1850.

Initially surveys were done by measuring points on the ground and staking out areas, this was quickly followed in the late 1800s by the triangulation method. The New Zealand Institute of Surveyors was established in 1888 after an earlier attempt in 1881. The government then divided the country into 28 'Meridional Circuits' each of which had a known point that other locations could be measured from. The Circuits were further divided into Survey Districts.[3][4] This system worked well except for surveys that needed to work across neighboring Circuits. To solve this problem the geodetic triangulation of the whole country was performed between 1909 and 1947. This was used for the Geodetic Datum 1949 and New Zealand map grid.[5][2] This was followed by the use of aerial photography, orthophotos and finally satellite photos.[6] Later the New Zealand Geodetic Datum 2000 superseded the 1949 version.[2] New Zealand topographical maps are sold digitally and in 1:50,000 and 1:250,000 printed versions.[7]