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NZ's largest coastal mapping survey successful

19 December 2008

New Zealand's largest coastal mapping survey successful

The largest coastal mapping survey in New Zealand waters, which covered more than 3500 square kilometres of Northland's seabed, has revealed reefs, new information about the iconic Hole in the Rock and mapped a prominent wreck site.

Three National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) vessels mapped the Bay of Islands and eastern Northland coast seabed during October and November as part of the government's Ocean Survey 20/20 programme, co-ordinated by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ).

In total, 3530 square kilometres were surveyed from North Cape to the Poor Knights Islands. Within the Bay of Islands, most of the area from 2 to 50 metre depth has been mapped using multi-beam and sidescan sonar. Aerial photography of the area less than 2 metres depth is still to take place.

Many interesting features were mapped, including reefs and well known features like the wreck of the former naval vessel HMNZS Canterbury, which lies in around 35 metres in Deep Water Cove.

While surveying around Cape Brett, survey lines were also successfully run for the first time through the iconic Hole in the Rock, recording depths greater than 80 metres in places.

NIWA hydrographic surveyor Anne-Laure Verdier said analysis of the data collected during the mapping could uncover further wrecks and uncharted reefs.

NIWA's bathymetric survey team is now processing the data collected, which will be used to support a biological survey of the Bay of Islands due to start in May or June next year.

Ms Verdier said the survey team had been buoyed by the support from Bay of Island locals during the project's first phase.

"Bay of Islands people both on land and on the water have been helpful and truly interested in our work and we thank them for that," Ms Verdier said.

Kevin Kelly, LINZ General Manager Policy, said data collected during the project can be used by government agencies, regional and district councils and local groups to develop and manage the Bay of Islands' coastal resources.

LINZ worked closely with NIWA, the Ministry of Fisheries, the Department of Conservation and the Northland Regional Council on design and prioritisation aspects of this survey. Other government agencies, the Far North District Council and local groups from the Bay of Islands, such as the Bay of Islands Maritime Park society and tangata whenua, have become involved as the project has progressed.

ENDS

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