Designing a Topo Themed Map with Mapbox Studio



I've been interested in trying out Mapbox Studio for a while, so I thought I'd have a go creating a custom basemap myself styled like the Topo maps made by Land Information NZ. Despite some of the limitations of OpenStreetMap data that Mapbox uses as their data source, the final basemap looks pretty close to the actual thing.

Check out the interactive map below. Have a zoom around and check out the detail, click here for a larger window.

Since OpenStreetMap doesn't have all of the datasets found on New Zealand's topo map, I downloaded some extra individual layers from the LINZ Data Service and added them as Mapbox tilesets to help make the map a bit more complete. Mapbox has a huge range of options for changing the size, opacity, order and symbology of map elements at different zoom levels, which as a cartographer was really fun to play around with! The downsides are that labelling doesn't look quite as good due to automatic placement, but I was happy to let that slide for my first go.

Compared to sites like which shows topo maps as raster image tiles, Mapbox renders data using vector data which speeds up load times and allows for a greater range of zoom transitions and styling. It makes the good old fashioned topography map a lot more dynamic and usable on mobile devices. 


Jeremy Palmer

Hi Andrew,

Great work. Very cool to see NZ data mapped using LINZ styles and vector tiles. As a matter of interest which LINZ data are you actually using?

Hi Jeremy, glad you like it! In addition to the OSM base data (some of which was originally LINZ supplied), I added native/exotic polygons, shelterbelts, fences, power lines, building points, residential areas, height points and a selection of hill/ridge names from the NZ Place Names dataset.

Jeremy Palmer

Awesome. Can you please attribute LINZ in the map attribution box? Strictly speaking you need to do that as per our CC-BY licence:

No problem, I’ve updated the map attribution.

Jeremy Palmer


Do you have any plans to share the style code so others can use or adapt?

geoff aitken

Andrew and Jeremy
AT LAST !!!! Let’s see some more.
Great to see someone experiment a little with the presentation of New Zealand Topo data. Our maps are so 70s and legibility can be easily improved (or not) with the magic now available. Keep experimenting…

What a cool implementation, I might try this myself!

Looks and works great! Fantastic job Andrew.

Looks awesome. Been playing with the idea of trying to swap over to vector tiles for a while now. Hopefully I’ll get some time to have a play soon after seeing your effort!

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