LiDAR in New Zealand Archaeology: prospects and pitfalls

  • Josephine May Hagan Bournemouth University
  • Andrew A Brown Bournemouth University


Airborne LiDAR has become a valuable tool for archaeologists and heritage professionals around the globe. The use of the technology has been relatively limited in New Zealand; however, the growing availability of data means this is beginning to change. In this paper we explore the prospects and limitations of LiDAR in two prosaic but core areas of archaeology: the detection of sites at the landscape scale and characterisation of features at the site-scale. In both cases we find LiDAR to be a generally effective tool. Larger sites (e.g. fortified pā sites) were nearly always located and could easily be mapped, whilst other like storage pits were identified at much lower rates depending on the intersection of factors like topography and land cover and were difficult to map. The general results of our analysis are intuitive, nevertheless they provide a useful case study for the capability of LiDAR for carrying out these key tasks and the situations in which greater confidence may be placed on LiDAR determinations. Ultimately, we suggest the integration of LiDAR with traditional field survey is a means to greatly enhance the understanding of archaeological sites in New Zealand.

How to Cite
Hagan, J. and Brown, A. (2019) “LiDAR in New Zealand Archaeology: prospects and pitfalls”, Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 10(2), pp. 80-91. Available at: (Accessed: 1December2021).
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