Aerial Imagery

About our aerial imagery

Each year a group of Canterbury local authorities and the regional council contract new aerial photographs to be captured over the Canterbury region. These digital photographs are captured using a specialist high powered camera on board an aircraft flying at altitude of 1400m.

The capture is very weather dependent as we need cloud free images captured and when the sun is nearly overhead in summer for the minimum shadows to appear on the images. Once these images have been captured, they go through processing to ensure they are in the correct geographic location, have enough overlap between photos and go through a process of flattening the terrain in the imagery through a procedure called orthorectification.

The 11 Canterbury councils together with public-private partnership capture a different area of Canterbury each summer; over what is now a decade long program. Thousands of individual photographs are then combined to provide a continuous surface across all of Canterbury. Our imagery collection also contains historical digitally-converted film photographs dating back to 1920’s.

You can view the aerial photographs in 2D in Canterbury Maps Viewer or both in 2D and 3D in the Canterbury Maps Property Search.

Aerial photographs provide the real-world context to our location information for Local Councils and Environment Canterbury’s wide variety of functions, including monitoring land use, traffic management, managing public and private utility networks, property information and developing farm environment plans. Regionally it is used as part of our processes in hazard identification, coastal erosion, climate change monitoring, river engineering including flood control, biosecurity, environmental monitoring, regional policy and planning and for considering applications for certain resource consents – land use consents, coastal permits, water permits, discharge permits and planning public passenger transport. In the event of a disaster, the imagery is a record of what the prior state was preceding an event.

Imagery capture frequency & resolution:

Urban imagery:

Urban imagery collection frequency is based on discretion of Territorial Authorities. Currently, Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakriri urbans are updated every 2 years. The other urbans areas are generally being updates every 4 years.

Urban imagery is typically captured at 5 or 7.5 cm pixel resolution.

Rural imagery:

Imagery captured in low country and farmland areas are updated every 4 years. Imagery captured in high country and alpine areas are updated every 10 years.

Rural imagery is typically captured at 20-30 cm pixel resolution.

To find out when the latest imagery was captured and what new imagery is coming view the Aerial Imagery collections map.

Access our aerial imagery

You can connect to our imagery by using our online services.

Download our aerial imagery

We have partnered with Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) to provide our imagery on the LINZ Data Service (LDS). From the LDS website you can order a whole collection or define an area of interest to download data within.

You can discover our Aerials collections under the category 'aerial photos' and the region 'Canterbury'.

If you can not find the dataset you are looking for on LINZ Data Service then please email their customer service at

Some of the latest imagery which was captured over the 2020-2021 capture season may not be on on LINZ Data Service yet, however the data is currently with LINZ. If you wish to download these datasets or get an estimated release date for LDS then please contact In the meantime you can access the imagery by connecting to our online services.