LiDAR data

LiDAR data shows the arrangement of features upon the land and can be used to ascertain how much the ground levels have changed post-quake. Kaikōura Plains Recovery Project (KPRP) had the ability to produce farm maps for Kaikōura farmers following the 2016 earthquakes.

Illustration of LiDAR pulse travelling from a LiDAR unit on the bottom of an aeroplane to the ground then back up to the unit.

LiDAR works by sending light energy to the ground from an aircraft. The pulse hits the ground and returns to the sensor, collecting data


From a post-quake farming perspective, LiDAR data could be helpful to ascertain how much the ground levels have changed and how farm management could be affected.

It could possibly assist in any post-quake farm or business decision-making.

The goal

LiDAR data was investigated as a tool to help farmers manage their new, wetter land post-quake, as it can be used for:

  • any future (re)development (new buildings/sheds, irrigation systems, tracks, ponds etc.)
  • providing accurate information for drainage design and/or installation
  • providing accurate information for crop or irrigation planning and application
  • identifying new flood hazard risk areas on farms (channel stability, increased sediment transport possibilities)
  • identifying new low areas on-farm (and wetter ones), which may be better and more cost effective to retire, encourage wetland growth or introduce a filtration mechanism
  • capturing nutrient runoff areas for Farm Environment Plans.
LiDAR data is used to understand the lay of the land

LiDAR data is used to understand the lay of the land

The outcome

Environment Canterbury has LiDAR data for the Kaikōura Plains that was acquired before and after the 2016 earthquakes.

The pre-quake data was gathered in July 2012 and the post-quake data in November 2016 and January 2017. 

Although little interest was shown by farmers within the Project, the pre- and post-quake LiDAR data was used in the planning and design stages of KPRP's drainage demonstration site project.

Find out more

See some technical information on LiDAR data (PDF File, 636.45KB).

More information about LiDAR data in Canterbury can be found on the Canterbury Maps website.