Urban Rural 2023 (generalised)


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30 Nov 2022

This dataset was first added to Stats NZ Geographic Data Service on 30 Nov 2022.

Urban rural 2023 update

UR 2023 is the first major update of the geography since it was first created in 2018. The update is to ensure UR geographies are relevant and meet criteria before each five-yearly population and dwelling census. UR 2023 contains 13 new rural settlements and 7 new small urban areas. Updates were made to reflect real world change including new subdivisions and motorways, and to improve delineation of urban areas and rural settlements. The Wānaka urban area, whose population has grown to be more than 10,000 based on population estimates, has been reclassified to a medium urban area in the 2023 urban rural indicator.

In the 2023 classification there are:

  • 7 major urban areas
  • 13 large urban areas
  • 23 medium urban areas
  • 152 small urban areas
  • 402 rural settlements.

This dataset is the definitive version of the annually released urban rural (UR) boundaries as at 1 January 2023 as defined by Stats NZ. This version contains 745 UR areas, including 195 urban areas and 402 rural settlements.

Urban rural (UR) is an output geography that classifies New Zealand into areas that share common urban or rural characteristics and is used to disseminate a broad range of Stats NZ’s social, demographic and economic statistics.

The UR separately identifies urban areas, rural settlements, other rural areas, and water areas. Urban areas and rural settlements are form-based geographies delineated by the inspection of aerial imagery, local government land designations on district plan maps, address registers, property title data, and any other available information. However, because the underlying meshblock pattern is used to define the geographies, boundaries may not align exactly with local government land designations or what can be seen in aerial images. Other rural areas, and bodies of water represent areas not included within an urban area.

Urban areas are built from the statistical area 2 (SA2) geography, while rural and water areas are built from the statistical area 1 (SA1) geography.


The following 4 non-digitised UR areas have been aggregated from the 16 non-digitised meshblocks/SA2s.

6901; Oceanic outside region, 6902; Oceanic oil rigs, 6903; Islands outside region, 6904; Ross Dependency outside region.

UR numbering and naming

Each urban area and rural settlement is a single geographic entity with a name and a numeric code.

Other rural areas, inland water areas, and inlets are defined by territorial authority; oceanic areas are defined by regional council; and each have a name and a numeric code.

Urban rural codes have four digits. North Island locations start with a 1, South Island codes start with a 2, oceanic codes start with a 6 and non-digitised codes start with 69.

Urban rural indicator (IUR)

The accompanying urban rural indicator (IUR) classifies the urban, rural, and water areas by type. Urban areas are further classified by the size of their estimated resident population:

  • major urban area – 100,000 or more residents,
  • large urban area – 30,000–99,999 residents,
  • medium urban area – 10,000–29,999 residents,
  • small urban area – 1,000–9,999 residents.

This was based on 2018 Census data and 2021 population estimates. Their IUR status (urban area size/rural settlement) may change if the 2023 Census population count moves them up or down a category.

The indicators, by name, with their codes in brackets, are:

urban area – major urban (11), large urban (12), medium urban (13), small urban (14),

rural area – rural settlement (21), rural other (22),

water – inland water (31), inlet (32), oceanic (33).

The urban rural indicator complements the urban rural geography and is an attribute in this dataset. Further information on the urban rural indicator is available on the Stats NZ classification and coding tool ARIA.

For more information please refer to the Statistical standard for geographic areas 2023.

Generalised version

This generalised version has been simplified for rapid drawing and is designed for thematic or web mapping purposes.


Names are provided with and without tohutō/macrons. The column name for those without macrons is suffixed ‘ascii’.

Digital data

Digital boundary data became freely available on 1 July 2007.

To download geographic classifications in table formats such as CSV please use Ariā


Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

You may use this work for commercial purposes.

You must attribute the creator in your own works.

Technical Details
Layer ID 111198
Data type Vector multipolygon
Feature count 745 (incl. 4 with empty or null geometries)
Attributes UR2023_V1_00, UR2023_V1_00_NAME, UR2023_V1_00_NAME_ASCII, IUR2023_V1_00, IUR2023_V1_00_NAME, LAND_AREA_SQ_KM, AREA_SQ_KM, Shape_Length
Services Vector Query API, Web Feature Service (WFS), Catalog Service (CS-W), data.govt.nz Atom Feed
Added 30 Nov 2022
Revisions 6 - Browse all revisions
Current revision Imported on Nov. 30, 2022 from Geodatabase in NZGD2000 / New Zealand Transverse Mercator 2000.


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