“Councils partnering for value and service”

Light detection and ranging (LiDAR)

Regional LiDAR Capture

In conjunction with Land Information NZ, BOPLASS councils have collaborated to complete a region-wide five-year plan for LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) capture across the Bay of Plenty region. 

LiDAR is a technology using laser sensors mounted on aircraft that fly over a landscape to capture a 3D view of the land. 

The sensor measures the time it takes for light to travel back and forth from the sensor to the ground. Because the sensor can rapidly pulse a laser beam, it can capture a ‘point cloud’ of highly accurate 3D measurements – like a digital twin of the landscape.

How is this data used in NZ?

This data represents a wealth of information that can help us understand our land, boost economic performance and improve our resilience to hazards and climate change. Below are some examples of uses.

Natural Hazards

New Zealand knows all about natural hazards. LiDAR can be extremely useful in understanding and improving our resilience to hazards.

Earthquake faults can often be seen directly from LiDAR data and it can help us understand our dynamic landscape. The slider below reveals the Wairau fault in the Tasman region of NZ, otherwise hidden by dense vegetation.

Caption: Aerial imagery (left) compared with a LiDAR-derived relief map of the same area (right).
On the relief map, the fault is startingly visible, running at an angle across the landscape.
Image provided by Toitū Te Whenua, Land Information New Zealand


With LiDAR being able to pick up such a high level of detail, archaeologists have been using it to uncover stories of the past. It can be used on the ground to scope out buildings or monuments and from the air where the sensors can capture the land surface normally hidden by vegetation.

It has been a breakthrough overseas in sites such as the Mayan City of Caracol in Belize with the data revealing a bustling city where people once thought a rarely occupied ceremonial site used to lie. In New Zealand, its use in archaeology is growing as more data is released. In the Bay of Plenty region the technology has been used to provide deeper understanding and visualisations of historic Pa (fort) sites.

Caption: A bird’s eye view of Pāpāmoa Hills Regional Park in Bay of Plenty, the location of many pre-European
archaeological features including at least 7 Pa sites, marked in red on the LiDAR-derived relief map on the right.
Image provided by Toitū Te Whenua, Land Information New Zealand

BOPLASS Ltd, PO Box 13056, Tauranga, 3141, New Zealand  |  Terms of use

Back To Top