This dataset is the definitive set of urban area boundaries for 2015 as defined by Statistics New Zealand.
Urban areas are statistically defined areas with no administrative or legal basis. Urban area populations are defined internationally as towns with populations of 1,000 or more. The urban area classification is designed to identify concentrated urban or semi-urban settlements without the distortions of administrative boundaries. Urban areas are made up of complete meshblocks and area units.
Prior to 1992 only the main and secondary urban areas had unique two-digit codes. From 1992 onwards, the structure of the urban area classification was changed to three digits, with unique codes for Minor Urban Areas as well as Main and Secondary Urban Areas
There is a three-part hierarchical subdivision of urban areas into:
main urban areas
secondary urban areas
minor urban areas.
Main urban areas are very large urban areas centred on a city or major urban centre. Main urban areas have a minimum population of 30, 000 and are identified by codes between 001 and 100 – such as 020, Wellington. In the 2015 dataset, there are 26 main urban areas.
Secondary urban areas were established at the 1981 Census of Population and Dwellings. They have a population between 10,000 and 29,999 and are centred on the large regional centres. Codes for secondary urban areas range between 101 and 200. In the 2015 dataset, there are 17 secondary urban areas.
The remainder of the statistically defined urbanised population of New Zealand are in minor urban areas. Minor urban areas are urbanised settlements (outside main and secondary urban areas), centred around smaller towns with a population between 1,000 and 9,999. Codes for minor urban areas range between 201 and 500.
Rural centres are also defined in the urban area field. Rural centres were established during the 1989 Review of Geostatistical Boundaries. Rural centres have no administrative or legal status, but are statistical units defined by complete area units. They have a population between 300 and 999. These are not termed urban under the standard international definition but identifying these settlements enables users to distinguish between rural dwellers living in true rural areas and those living in rural settlements or townships. The code for rural centres is 501.
In the urban area classification the remainder of New Zealand is categorised by the following codes:
Urban area code
Urban area label
Rural (incl. some Off-Shore Islands)
Inland Water not in Urban Area
Inlet – not in TA
Inlet – in TA but not in Urban Area
Oceanic – in Region but not in TA
Digital boundary data became freely available on 1 July 2007.
Point Of Contact
Electronic Mail Address
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Topic Category Code
Version 6.2 (Build 9200) ; Esri ArcGIS 10.8.1.14362
Data Quality Info
DQ _ Data Quality
LI _ Lineage
Non-alignment of meshblock and cadastral boundaries is one of several reasons for meshblock boundary adjustments. Other reasons include requests from local authorities, the Local Government Commission or Electoral Representation Commission, and to make Census of Population and Dwellings enumeration processes easier.
To derive the urban area boundaries clipped to the coastline, meshblock polygons were dissolved to exclude meshblocks with a land/water attribute of Inlet or Oceanic.
From the meshblock pattern, higher geographies, including the 2015 urban areas, were dissolved using the dissolve tool in the Arc GIS suite.