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LINZ seeking feedback on Topo Map Production

New Zealand has a great official mapping system in place, thanks to Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) having a mandate to produce and maintain consistent, national topographic mapping. Since 2009 [1], this mandate has materialised in the Topo50 and Topo250 map series’, respectively 1:50000 and 1:250000 scale maps. Topo50 maps, in particular, are frequently used for tramping.

As of Tuesday, however, LINZ is seeking feedback on the future production and prices of paper maps [2].

LINZ presently produces the standard maps on paper for retailers at wholesale rates, resulting in retail prices of around $8 each. As importantly, though, LINZ’s data is freely available for download… either as raw mapping data, or as pre-rendered map sheets [3]. The availability of this public information has resulted in plenty of third party innovations, such as online topographic renditions of NZ (very helpful for planning), freely-produced GPS maps [4].

One consequence of this continued availability of digital data, though, is the demand of paper maps has lessened. LINZ’s offset printing methods are inefficient for the modern demand, and with wholesale prices not having changed since they were set 7 years ago, LINZ is now subsidising much of the printing. New methods for printing, and new pricing models, are under consideration.

If you’d like to learn more and possibly make a submission, click through to the LINZ announcement page [2]. The public consultation document gets straight to the point. It’s not lengthy, and making a quick submission via the website appears easy.

Map retailers might also need to consider some of the proposals. For example, LINZ proposes to set a minimum wholesale order size of 50 maps.

At first glance, my personal favourite option is option 1: a mixture of offset and plot printing, depending on map popularity, with a single fee. I think I could easily stomach a possible price rise from $8 to $12 per map. $12 is roughly the same price as maps of the old NZMS260 series, that Topo50 replaced 7 years ago.