Northland will be mapped in 3D with the Government stumping up $800,000 for the project, which has been matched by Northland's four councils.

Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have announced government funding of up to $800,000 for 3D aerial mapping of Northland to provide the region with highly accurate geographical data to make better business decisions.

LiDAR is a remote sensing tool which uses laser pulses to generate large amounts of highly accurate geographical terrain data.

"This will be the most comprehensive LiDAR exercise ever undertaken in New Zealand and the high-quality mapping data produced will provide a blueprint of the whole region," Mr Bridges said.

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"It will produce data that is 10 times more accurate than what is currently used, and can have a wide range of uses from forest inventory, floodplain mapping, urban planning and coastal engineering to its use for the design of powerlines, roads, railways, mines, farms and land developments."

The data will provide authorities with more confidence to progress infrastructure projects and deliver better, more cost-effective planning and a better understanding and ability to plan for sustainable land management.

"The data can be used by forestry companies to help plan their logging operations, horticulture companies for sustainable land management and by public and private operators to plan pest control. On the farm it can be used for creating topographic maps of fields and for crop mapping in vineyards and orchards. It will be a valuable tool for decision-makers to use in working out how to get the best use of their land," Mr Guy said.

LiDAR also helps with detailed hazard planning and preparation by identifying any changes to land formations, water courses and physical structures after a natural event.

After the Kaikoura earthquake it was used to show how far the impact extended out to sea.

Funding for the Northland LiDAR project comes from the Government's Regional Growth Programme, co-led by the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment. Land Information New Zealand has also contributed funds.

The Government's funding has been collectively matched by the Whangarei, Far North and Kaipara district and Northland regional councils. LiDAR surveying is expected to start within the coming months and be completed in 2018.

A Cessna twin engine aeroplane, modified for LiDAR surveying, will be used. The plane can be flown safely at low altitudes over urban areas.