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Cartographic Collection

The Cartographic Collection has over 60,000 historical and current maps, charts and atlases plus map-related DVDs, CDs, books and serials. It concentrates on New Zealand, the Pacific and Antarctica.

The Cartographic Collection forms part of the Alexander Turnbull Library collections. It holds most types of New Zealand maps and plans, including:

  • electoral
  • topographic (land contours, rivers, mountains and place names)
  • cadastral (land ownership and boundaries)
  • survey
  • historical
  • Māori
  • scientific
  • hydrographical (charts)
  • bathymetric (sea depths)
  • geological
  • statistical (census)
  • weather
  • military
  • forestry
  • caving
  • orienteering
  • tourist
  • town plans
  • local authority
  • district plans
  • subdivision plans and real estate posters.

We also have maps from other countries, such as:

  • 19th century Ordnance Survey maps of the United Kingdom
  • topographic and historical maps of Australia
  • a substantial collection of world maps from the 16th century onwards
  • World War II military topographic maps of Europe and the Middle East
  • World War I trench maps of France and Belgium
  • Korea and Vietnam War maps.

Books, serials and CDs that cover the bibliography, history, cataloguing, collection and preservation of maps are also held.

More about the Alexander Turnbull Library collections

Access to the Cartographic Collection during the building redevelopment

  • ­Most original materials in this collection are available from the Reading Rooms.

About half the maps in the collection are described online and some can be seen online as digital images. Zoom functionality enables maps to be seen at full original size.

Maps in other collections

Gazetteers, place-name indexes, aerial photographs and architectural plans are held in other sections of the Library.

You can also access copies of some historical maps held at Land Information New Zealand and Archives New Zealand in our map reading room.

Archives New Zealand website

Land Information New Zealand website

History of the Cartographic Collection

Alexander Turnbull’s own collection of early maps by settlers, sailors, missionaries and government surveyors forms the basis of the collection. The first map curator was appointed in the 1960s. In 1972, when the Library gained legal deposit status, there were about 11,000 items. The collection continues to grow through purchase and donation.

More about donations and bequests

Get copies of items in this collection

You can order colour or black and white copies of most maps, if copying doesn’t harm the original or breach copyright.

We provide photocopies, aperture cards (microfilm printouts), low and high resolution scans (any size), laser copies (to A3 size) and inkjet prints (to A2 size).

Copying maps with a personal digital camera is also permitted in most cases.

More about making copies

More about copyright and privacy