Nobody Lives Here: Uninhabited Areas of New Zealand

With 4.6 million people spread out over 268,021 km², New Zealand is not a crowded place when compared to more densely populated countries such as Japan and the UK. The below map shows just how much land is uninhabited per square kilometre, making up 78.21% of our total land area.

The above map received plenty of attention on Reddit’s r/newzealand and r/mapporn, and featured in articles in The New Zealand Herald and Newshub. You can also check out a web map displaying the data here.

Posted by andrew in Blog, Portfolio Work, 0 comments
Holiday discounts on The Map Kiwi Store!

Holiday discounts on The Map Kiwi Store!

It's that time of year again, the Christmas rush! To make it easier to find that great Christmas gift, you can now get a 15% discount on the New Zealand State Highway Metro Map print (A1 size), and 10% off all other map prints. That includes the full range of print designs, including the Lakes of New Zealand, Metro Map Night Design, City Maps, Topography maps and Map Dots to name a few.

If you're ordering as a gift to someone, you can now specify a gift message. Just write your note at checkout and include the words 'gift message' to include a festive note alongside your order.

If you're ordering from overseas, order as soon as possible to ensure that your package arrives before Christmas. Cutoff dates are December 7th for Australia, and December 2nd for the UK/Europe/Asia/North America. 

The sale runs for one week from the 30th November up to the 7th December, so get in quick! 

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Custom Map Dots now available

Custom Map Dots now available

When I first made Map Dots during the 7 Day Cartography Challenge, some of you were asking for designs of different cities. Now, you can order a custom Map Dot for a town or city of your choice, and choose the colour as well! If you need help deciding on a location, this interactive map can help you get an idea.

You can order these here:

You can also get our existing Map Dots of New Zealand cities below:

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Christchurch and Auckland Historical Tram Maps

Christchurch and Auckland Historical Tram Maps

Trams used to rule the streets of New Zealand in the first half of the 20th Century, with Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland, Dunedin and more all developing extensive tram networks. Sadly, as car use became more widespread and service running costs increased, these networks were replaced with lower cost bus services in the 1950's. Many of the historical routes can still be seen in modern bus routes today. 

With the widespread discussion ongoing about bringing modern light rail to cities, it seems a shame that the original streetcar networks are no longer around. Maybe it's a chance to bring them back?

To get a perspective of the extent of these tram routes during their heyday, I created these transit maps of the electric tram networks of Christchurch and Auckland

Check them out below:


These maps are indicative routes based on available historical information. If you're interested in reading in more detail about trams in New Zealand, check out End of the Penny Section: When Trams Ruled the Streets of New Zealand by Graham Stewart.

You can get prints of these maps on the store:

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The Map Kiwi, now in store at Shopology!

The Map Kiwi, now in store at Shopology!

I'm excited to announce that in addition to my web store, products from The Map Kiwi will be making their appearance at a retail location in Christchurch!

Shopology is a store located in Christchurch's Arts Centre, upstairs from the i-Site visitors centre on Worcester Boulevard. It offers a range of unique designer items including clothing, gifts & interior items. Of course, it wouldn't be complete without some maps on sale also!

Shopology opens for the first time on October 1st. I highly recommended checking it out!


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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. 

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7 Day Cartography Challenge: A Recap

7 Day Cartography Challenge: A Recap

A little while ago, I set myself a challenge of creating seven maps over the period of a week, posting a new map each day on my Facebook and Twitter. It was challenging to complete each resulting map within the short space of a day, but were well worth the positive feedback and skills learnt.

Here's a summary of all the maps I made during the challenge in one place. Enjoy!

1. Christchurch Cycleways Map

A map showing the major cycling routes that the Christchurch City Council is in the progress of constructing across the city. The bright route colours are reminiscent of a metro map, but with a much higher degree of geographical accuracy of the routes. Places of interest along the routes are represented by friendly bubbles, creating a circuit board-like appearance where paths meet and intersect.

2. Lakes of New Zealand

This one ended up being closer to an infographic than a traditional map, but came together beautifully as an effective visualisation of lake area size and depth, represented by order and colour respectively. Direct comparisons of lake size was eye opening as well; I had no idea how much longer Lake Te Anau and Lake Wakatipu were in comparison to Taupo, NZ's largest lake.

3. Wellington 9m Sea Level Rise

My goal for this map was to put a twist on the familiar Wellington coastline by showing the dramatic impact of a 9 metre rise in sea level on the city. Evans Bay and Lyall Bay are now connected, Miramar has become a harbour and shoreline of Lambton Harbour resembles something closer to its historic boundary. LIDAR contour data provided by the Wellington City Council meant that it was possible to derive this hypothetical new coastline with high accuracy.

4. A Map of Puns: The Town of Bulls

The town of Bulls, located near the west coast of the North Island, is widely known for their bullish marketing of the town's amenities. This map points out many of the pun-related (and real!) names of locations throughout the town. Unbelieva-bull!

5 & 6. Te Reo Maori Place Names of New Zealand

These ones were some of the most challenging ones to complete within a day, due to the amount of research required in finding the Te Reo names of places. I'm very happy with how it turned out though, and thanks to everybody that contributed corrections! Because of the interest, I plan to offer updated and revised copies on my store page.

7. Map Dots

For the last day, I focused on something minimal and beautiful. And circles of course, who doesn't love those? The silhouettes of New Zealand cities using roads and coastlines made a perfect choice, for something I like to call 'Map Dots'. They're on the store right now! Thank you to OpenStreetMap contributors for the data used to create these.

A big thank you to everyone on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit who followed along and supported my 7 days of cartography. It was an ambitious yet very satisfying challenge to pull off. I learnt so many useful things (ideas, data sources, cartographic techniques) along the way out of necessity that will be very helpful in future situations, and of course, it helps to further demonstrate my cartographic skills to others.

I plan to refine some of the designs (some ideas need longer to mature) so keep an eye out for revised editions!

Posted by andrew in Blog, Portfolio Work, 1 comment

Blog Update March 2017: The Final Stretch, 7 Maps 7 Days

Those who know me personally are aware that I’ve been working hard on my Master’s thesis (more info) since early last year. I’m glad to say that after all this time, it’s nearly finished! With luck, I’ll be submitting my completed thesis on the 26th March. I must admit I have mixed feelings. Glad, because freedom is just around the corner, but anxious about the pressure of it all coming together on time!

Naturally, time constraints meant that there hasn’t been much time for new projects on The Map Kiwi as of late but hopefully, this will change soon after I finish. Here are a few projects I’ve got lined up:

NZ EV Charging Map

I’ve always wanted to learn how to make my own web maps, so I’ve got an electric vehicle themed web map coming up showing all the places in New Zealand that you can fast charge your electric vehicle (EV). I’m a big fan of electric vehicles, so I’m using it as a project to learn more about how to code web maps from scratch. It’s quite a change from the static maps that I usually make!

A quick work in progress screenshot:

I hope to add some extra layer controls, and extra information about future and planned EV Fast Charger locations, as well as some ‘coverage’ areas for each – contours representing the driving distance to the chargers – useful information if you need to know how much battery range you need to reach one.

7 Maps in 7 Days

Another idea that’s been floating around is to try a 7 Maps, 7 Days challenge after the thesis is out of the way. The aim is to create a new map every 24 hours over the course of a week and share it on the site. It’d certainly be a great way to improve my skills under pressure and on a range of different maps.

What sort of maps would you want to see me make in this challenge?
Where would the be? What would they be about? How would they be made?

Send me your ideas here or on the Facebook page. I might just award a free map print to the person with the best idea! 🙂

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New postcards have arrived!

New postcards have arrived!

A new package full of Map Kiwi designed postcards has arrived, including a recent design which look great!

Below is the colourful Christchurch Property Map, now in postcard form.

The iconic New Zealand Metro Map, in postcard form:


Both of these postcards are now in stock from the store individually. If you're interested in bulk amounts, please get in touch.

Check them out on The Map Kiwi Store here! I hope to have these in a few retailers in the near future, so stay tuned!

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Colourful Property Boundary City Maps

A colleague recently shared with me this map of the US counties that was surprisingly colourful and intricate. I thought I'd have a go at making a similar map for Christchurch and Wellington, this time taking property parcel boundaries from Land Information New Zealand and applying a random colour ramp to the data. This has the effect of artistically representing every single property parcel in the area in random colours, while leaving the roads white and well contrasted.

I think they looks pretty cool, and I hope you do as well! Check out the results below.

Interested in prints of these maps? You can get the Christchurch one here, or let me know using the contact form or on The Map Kiwi Facebook page!



Larger versions covering a larger area of each city are below:

Posted by andrew in Portfolio Work, 0 comments
The Map Kiwi Christmas Shipping Dates: Order by 19th December (South Island) or 17th December (North Island) to ensure your order arrives before Christmas. Allow an extra 2 days for rural.