New Zealand Hydrogeological Systems

This hydrogeological system GIS dataset provide a nationally-consistent basis for hydrogeological mapping in New Zealand. Hydrogeological systems are defined here as geographical areas with broadly-consistent hydrogeological properties, and similar resource pressures and management issues.

The ‘NZ_hydrogeologicalsystem_polygon.shp’ provides seven hydrogeological attributes as follows: unique name (HS_name), unique identification (HS_id), system type (HS_type), coastal information (HS_coast), aquifer overview (HS_overview), geology and age group (HS_geo_gr) and geology and age descriptor (HS_geo_age). Nine system types are identified (see figure below). The ‘NZ_hydrogeologicalsystem_boundary.shp’ attribute table identifies, the source and methods of boundary delineation.

Attribute names, descriptions and values for both datasets are detailed in Moreau et al. 2019. This dataset is provided under Creative Commons C BY 4.0.0 Where the dataset is used in a figure, GNS Science requests attribution in the following manner: © GNS Science 2019. Where reference to the dataset is to be included in a reference list please cite Moreau et al., 2019.

Click here to download the NZ hydrogeological systems map and associated report (disclaimer and licence applies, 89 Mb zip file).

North Island hydrogeological systems

North Island hydrogeological systems

South Island hydrogeological systems

South Island hydrogeological systems


Moreau, M.; White, P.A.; Mourot F.; Rawlinson Z.; Tschritter C.; Cameron S.C.; Westerhoff R. 2019. Classification of New Zealand, GNS Science report; 2018/35. 28p.

New Zealand Aquifer Potential Map Version 1.0

The New Zealand 1:250,000 geological map (QMAP) lithological and chrono-stratigraphic information (i.e., main rock type; geological age; and secondary rock type) were used to carry out a nationwide assessment of surficial hydrogeological units and their properties. A number of subsequent map products were produced. The work is described in Tschritter et al. 2017.

One of these, the Aquifer Potential map, shows a good match with the most recent New Zealand national aquifer boundary dataset of Moreau and Bekele (2015). Additionally, the Aquifer Potential map provides a quick and simple way to communicate basic large-scale hydrogeological information.

The Aquifer Potential Map is a preliminary map (version 1.0). This work was carried out as part of the GNS Science Groundwater Resources of New Zealand research programme, and future plans within this research programme include the refinement and update of this map. In its current form, the map is considered suitable for refining surficial aquifer boundaries on the regional scale where these boundaries have not been updated since 2001. Future updates of the dataset will reduce the uncertainty and extend the applicability of the data set.

Click here to download the Aquifer Potential map and associated report (disclaimer applies, 60 Mb zip file).


North island Aquifer Potential Map


South Island Aquifer Potential Map


Tschritter, C.; Westerhoff, R.; Rawlinson, Z.; White, P. 2017. Aquifer classification and mapping at the national scale – Phase 1: Identification of hydrogeological units, GNS Science Report 2016/51. 52 p.

Aquifer maps of New Zealand

The aquifer extents were described by White (2001), and some boundaries were updated by Moreau (2015) using information provided by regional councils and with information from Lovett and Cameron (2014). Methods for development of aquifer boundaries generally rely on knowledge of productive well locations, associated hydraulic characteristics, and use of geological maps to identify water bearing materials. In many cases these boundaries have also been influenced by management attributes (e.g. regional boundaries, property boundaries and surface water catchments (Lovett and Cameron, 2014).

The resulting map consists of over 150 polygons, although some polygons include more than the one aquifer.

2015_aquifer map_NI_website

North Island aquifers

2015_aquifer map_SI_website

South Island aquifers


Moreau, M.; Bekele, M. 2015. Groundwater component of the Water Physical Stock Account (WPSA), GNS Science Consultancy Report 2014/290. 35 p.

Lovett, A.P.; Cameron, S.G. 2014 Development of a National Groundwater Atlas for New Zealand, GNS Science Report 2014/30. 8 p.

White, P.A. 2001 Groundwater resources in New Zealand. In Groundwaters of New Zealand, M.R. Rosen and P.A. White (eds). New Zealand Hydrological Society Inc., Wellington. p 45–75.

Other maps

GNS Science Web Maps

GNS Science maps (geological/geological resource and geophysical) - GNS Science publications 
1:250,000 geological mapping of New Zealand - QMAP project