Commonly Used Surveying and Planning Terms Defined

As with many professions, there are a number of commonly used terms used in surveying and planning. To help you understand these we have provided definitions to the most commonly used terms.

Advice Note

An Advice Note is additional information included with a resource consent decision. An advice note could include information about the property, such as geotechnical information, and can include additional fees that are required to be paid prior to the property getting section 224c approval. An advice note usually does not require the person to do anything in order to proceed with title.

Affected persons approval

An Affected persons approval is required by a council to circumvent the requirement for a limited or fully notified resource consent. Persons or organisations identified by a Council are asked to give their consent to the development. Typical approvals required are; neighbours, Iwi, Health department and Regional, District or City Councils.

Amalgamation condition

An Amalgamation condition is a requirement imposed on a subdivision resource consent where neighbouring parcels of land are included in the same certificate of title. An amalgamation condition can save the property owner extra costs in undertaking the survey.

Amalgamation covenant

An Amalgamation covenant is similar to an Amalgamation condition, but is a substitute when an amalgamation condition cannot be imposed. For example, an amalgamation condition cannot be imposed when the two (or more) pieces of land are of different types, for example one piece of land is a guaranteed freehold title, while the other piece of land is limited as to parcel. An amalgamation covenant is made under section 240 of the Resource Management Act 1991.

Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE)

An Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) is a report that outlines the proposed development and considers the impact a proposal will have on the environment. The report will also assess the requirements of the district and / or Regional Plans to see the proposal's impact on these. Another term for an AEE is EIA or Environmental Impact Assessment.

Boma Survey

A Boma Survey is when a commercial building is measured up to identify individual lease areas for different shops within that building. A Boma survey is done for lease purposes only and is not required to be registered with LINZ.

Boundary Adjustment

A Boundary Adjustment in New Zealand is a survey to amend the common boundaries between 2 or more separate titles. The boundaries are rearranged in order to reflect an agreement between two neighbours. This type of subdivision still has to go through the full subdivision process with Council. An example of a boundary adjustment is when a common fence or wall between two properties are not in the position of the true boundary, and the neighbours choose to conduct a boundary adjustment rather than to move the wall or fence.

Cadastral Dataset

A Cadastral Dataset is the name given to a complete set of survey information that will be held by the Crown, and which shows all the information required to identify and recreate the positions in the future. A cadastral dataset is required to:

  • prove a property's boundaries,
  • reproduce all the property boundaries
  • explain how the property boundaries were determined
  • identify any problems encountered
  • graphically shows the existing occupation patterns
  • any other information that may be required to prove the work undertaken

A Cadastral Dataset will include, a title plan(s), a survey plan(s), survey report, traverse sheets, calculations, and may include occupation diagrams and any other information relevant to assist in proving the decisions and solutions made.

Certificate of title

A certificate of title is the paper record and legal document of the parties that own a particular property and whether there are any legal interests in the property. Ownership can be by an individual, a multiple number of people or a company. The interests noted on a title vary but include:

  • mortgage information
  • easement information
  • covenant information
  • transfer information
  • consent notices

Other information shown on the certificate of title are:

  • if a title is limited as to parcels
  • all relevant parcels of land that relate to the title
  • the area of land involved
Certificate of compliance

A Certificate of compliance is a certificate or letter from the relevant District or City Council, Regional Council or Unity Council. This letter confirms that an activity a person is doing, or wishes to do, on their property is allowed without resource consent. In other words the activity is a permitted activity. An example is a certificate confirming a house can be built in a rural area.

Coastal permit

A Coastal permit is a type of resource consent. A coastal permit is a consent gained from your local Regional or Unity Council and is specifically for an activity within the coastal marine area (CMA). This permit can only be given for activities that are identified in a regional plan as requiring a consent, or the rules in the plan require a consent to be sought, or the activity is specifically required by the Resource Management Act. No person or organisation can receive a coastal permit for a prohibited activity.

Compiled Plan

A Compiled Plan is a set of survey plans which a licensed cadastral surveyor prepares and certifies. This type of plan is created from existing survey records and negates the requirement for any pegs to be put into the ground. Existing boundary positions and calculations between them are used in order to create the new boundaries.

Computed Plan

A Computed Plan is a set of survey plans a licensed cadastral surveyor prepares and certifies. To do this type of plan a licensed cadastral surveyor is required to get approval from the Surveyor General. This type of plan is created from existing survey records.

Consent Notice

A Consent Notice is made under section 221 of the Resource Management Act 1991. A consent notice is imposed as a condition on a subdivision resource consent decision. A consent notice cannot be imposed on any other type of resource consent.

A consent notice ensures the continuing compliance of a condition, or a set of conditions, made in the resource consent decision. A consent notice is registered on the title of the relevant parcels of land when the solicitor creates the titles.

Controlled activity

A controlled activity is an activity that is required to have a resource consent, and this consent cannot be declined by the Council. However, the council may impose certain conditions which must be met by the applicant. This consent is required from the District, City or Regional Council that has made the activity a controlled activity.


A Covenant is an agreement that restricts the use of a property or a part of a property in a specific way. Some examples of covenants are; restricting the materials used to build a house, limiting the size of houses and prohibiting some types of businesses from a property.

A covenant is usually between neighbours or a group of people and is registered on the certificate of title.

Cross Lease

A Cross Lease (also sometimes referred to as a Flats Plan) is a common type of subdivision in residential areas. It originated as a means of circumventing council planning rules in order to subdivide a property into sections smaller than were originally allowed.

A cross lease creates a title where there are several owners of the land related to one title. These owners have equal shares in the land and all the improvements on the land (for example the houses, sheds, fences and drive). Each shareholder of the land will lease their house and any other associated building/s, and a portion of the land. Some of the land is held as common land (used by all), most commonly used as a driveway). The most common length of lease is 999 years. Each building and leased area is identified on a cross lease survey plan (also known as a Flats Plan).

A combined freehold and leasehold title is issued to each shareholder. This title has the following information:

  • the freehold share of the lessee in the whole block, and
  • the leasehold interest of the lessee in the individual site.

How a cross lease works:

  • The total area of land is owned in equal shares by all of those owners of the cross lease.
  • The individual owners then lease a particular building or buildings that are shown on a Flats Plan. This lease is for 999 years.
  • The share of land that the building/s sit on is then registered in a cross-lease agreement on the Certificate of Title.
  • If you wish to make changes to the cross lease agreement, you must get approval from all the other cross-lease owners and any changes to the shape or numbers of the buildings must be recorded and shown on a new plan. Each time there is a change, a resource consent is required from the local council.

This is still a common form of property ownership, and banks have no difficulty in registering a mortgage over such a property.

A cross lease works most efficiently when there are only 2 - 4 houses involved, anything larger is best dealt with as a unit title.

Deposited Plan

A Deposited Plan (DP) is the term used to indicate a previously approved cadastral dataset (survey plan) has been deposited with LINZ creating all the titles graphically displayed on the survey and title plan.


Designation means a provision made in a District plan to meet a need of a Requiring authority (for example Council, Transit New Zealand, Education Department, Department of Conservation, Electricity Company or Telecom). Designations are commonly located at a school, transformer, reserve or road corridor.

Development Contribution

A Development Contribution or Headwork's Fee is a financial contribution made to the District Council to help pay for your share of the upgrading required by your development of roads, foul sewerage, storm water and water supply systems. Regarding reserves, a development contribution can be in land, cash or a combination of both.


A Discharge is when a substance, either as a liquid or a gas is allowed to escape, and includes emit and deposit.

Discharge Permit

A Discharge Permit is required when a person or organisation wishes to make a discharge of anything that is not expressly stated as allowed in any Regional plan. The following is a list of activities that require a discharge consent:

  • a contaminant or water into water; or
  • a contaminant onto or into land in circumstances which may result in that contaminant (or any other contaminant emanating as a result of natural processes from that contaminant) entering water; or
  • Contaminant from any industrial or trade premises into air; or
  • Contaminant from any industrial or trade premises onto or into land—
Discretionary Activity

A Discretionary Activity is an activity required to have a resource consent in order to be undertaken. The consent is required from the District, City or Regional Council, whichever has made the activity a discretionary activity under their plan.

Restricted Discretionary Activity

A Restricted Discretionary Activity is an activity that is required to have a Resource consent in order to be undertaken. The consent is required from the District, City or Regional Council, which ever has made the activity a restrictive discretionary activity under their plan.

Dominant Tenement

A Dominant Tenement is the term used in an easement schedule on a Title Plan (see below). Dominant tenement describes what property (or properties) gain the advantage of using another property for a set purpose (the easement). Some examples are: right of way, electricity and drainage easements.


An Easement is the legal right for owners of one property to carry out some form of activity over another property . The easement area is shown on the survey plan and an easement document is prepared by your solicitor and recorded on the new certificate of title. Some examples are:

  • a water easement allowing water to be conveyed to property 'C' over property 'D'
  • a right of way easement allowing the owners of property 'A' to move over property 'B' in order to gain access to their property
Easement certificate

An easement certificate is the term used for the registered legal document for an easement on a certificate of title (registered with LINZ) . An easement certificate denotes what easements exist, references a plan that shows the easements, and identifies how the easement works (e.g. maintenance of a right of way or a drain).

Easement in gross

An easement in gross is an easement whose benefit is in favour of a specific entity or organisation rather than another piece of land. Some examples of an entity or organisation who may be entitled to be included as the benefactor of an easement in gross are:

  • City, district or regional councils. for example, Auckland City, Dunedin City Council or Southland District Council.
  • Telecom New Zealand
  • The Power Company
Easement plan

An Easement plan is a type of survey plan undertaken when a property owner needs an easement created over their property or an adjoining property. The plan is done when there is no need to undertake a subdivision. An easement plan does not require resource consent or approval from the Council except when a right of way is being created.

Some common reasons for such a survey are:

  • Council is placing a pipeline and an easement in gross is required over the property.
  • A power line is being placed through the property.
  • A right of way is being placed over one property for access to another property.
Esplanade Reserve

An Esplanade Reserve is a reserve whose ownership is vested in either the District Council, City Council, Regional Council, or in the Central Government. The purpose of an Esplanade reserve is to provide access to and along a river, lake or sea.

Esplanade Strip

An Esplanade Strip is a type of easement over a property whose ownership will remain in private ownership. An esplanade strip works similarly to a right of way easement, giving the public access rights to a stream, lake or the sea, but the land remains in private ownership. Under an esplanade strip agreement there are times of the year when the land owner may prohibit access, such as around lambing time each year.

Existing Use Certificate

An Existing Use Certificate is a certificate from the Council that -

  • describes a use of land in a particular location; and
  • states that the use of the land was a use of land allowed by the Council on the date on which the certificate is issued; and
  • specifies the character, intensity, and scale of the use on the date on which the authority issues the certificate.
Hydrographic Surveyin

Hydrographic Surveying is the measurement of a water body. This includes the mapping of a river bed, lake bed or the sea floor.

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) is the organisation that holds the information about properties (including title and survey information. LINZ holds these records for the government (Crown).

Land Transfer Plan (LT Plan)

Land Transfer Plan (LT Plan) is the term used to describe a survey plan that has been prepared under the Land Transfer Act, but which has not yet had the new titles created.

Land Use Consent

Land Use Consent is required when land is being used in such a way that a district or regional plan requires consent for a specific activity. The use of the air, water, coastal marine area and the subdivision of land are excluded from the need for land use consent instead requiring a Discharge permit, Coastal permit or Subdivision consent.

Lease Plan

A Lease Plan identifies where the boundaries of a leased area on a property are going. Usually the leased area will be leased for at least 35 years. A lease plan forms part of a full Cadastral Dataset and is registered with LINZ and a title is generated for that lease.

Licensed Cadastral Surveyor

A Licensed Cadastral Surveyor is a person who is authorised to oversee and sign a cadastral dataset under Part 3 of the Cadastral Survey Act 2002. All surveys that are approved by LINZ must be completed under the guidance of a Licensed Cadastral Surveyor.

Limited as to parcels

Some Certificates of title are identified as being “Limited as to parcels” or in some cases “Limited as to Survey”. This usually means that the original boundary definition is not reliable, so survey fieldwork is required in order to confirm the assumed boundary dimensions.

In these situations all of the boundaries need to be surveyed, occupation noted and survey pegs or boundary discs put in. Without this the limitations cannot be removed from the title.

At the completion of the survey, approval is also required from all the neighbours. If all approvals are not forthcoming titles can still be generated, only the limitations will remain on the new title.

A property that is limited as to parcels cannot be amalgamated with a fee simple parcel (one that has no limitations). In these circumstances the parcels are required to have an amalgamation covenant.

In most situations, a title is limited as to parcels because some of the boundaries were defined under the Deeds System. Under the Deeds System many of the boundaries were merely a line on a diagram in the Deeds Book.

Limited-Notified Application

Limited-Notified Application is a type of resource consent application. In the case of limited notified consent, the Council requests comments from neighbours and other people and organisations which it considers to be an affected party. The affected parties are given 20 working days in which to respond to the notification from the Council. An affected party can make a written comment in support or objection or as a comment on the proposal.


A Non-Complying activity is an activity that requires a resource consent from either the district or regional Council. The Council can refuse to give consent for a non-complying activity. The reason consent may be refused is usually based on the effects being too great and the activity being contrary to the policies and objectives in the District (or Regional) plan.

Generally a non-complying activity is the hardest type of activity to get resource consent for.

Non-Notified Application

Non-Notified Application is a Resource consent application that does not need public consultation in the form of sending copies to affected parties and placing a notice in the Local newspaper and placing a notice on the site.

Objects to a condition

When an applicant Objects to a condition on their resource consent they are not appealing the decision, but are requesting one or more conditions be altered or deleted for a specific reason. A decision on an objection is usually made by a planning committee or commissioner, and usually requires a hearing.

Permitted Activity

A Permitted Activity is an activity that does not require a resource consent. This is because either, the district or regional plan states that an activity can be done without consent if certain criteria are met, or; an activity is not specifically mentioned in the plan and the activity meets all the District Plan rules and standards. Some examples of activities that are usually permitted are:

  • Building a house in a residential area is usually permitted if all front and side yards are complied with and the height plane is not encroached.
  • Digging a garden.
  • A farm gravel pit. This depends on the quantities being extracted.
Pre-hearing meeting

A Pre-hearing meeting is an arranged meeting for an applicant on a publicly-notified resource consent application to discuss their proposal and to hear the reasons a submitter has for their application. The purpose is to clarify what a submitter's concerns are and if more information can be provided, or alternatives considered.

Prohibited Activity

A Prohibited Activity is an activity for which no resource consent can be granted under any circumstances, for example the creation of a nuclear power station in New Zealand.

Publicly-Notified Application

A Publicly-Notified Application is a resource consent that requires all neighbours and other potentially affected persons or organisations to be notified. A sign needs to be placed in a prominent location, and notices need to be placed in the newspaper on two occasions. Every person has 20 working days in which to make comment in support of or in objection to a notified consent. A hearing is likely to happen if any submissions are received.

Redefinition Survey

A Redefinition Survey is an accurate survey to find the existing boundary pegs, or place new boundary pegs on an existing boundary point. If you are building a new fence, retaining wall or structure close to or on a boundary line a redefinition survey will give you confidence you are building in the right place.

Resource Consent

A Resource Consent is a Land use consent, Subdivision consent, Coastal permit, Water permit or a Discharge permit.

Restricted Coastal Activity

A Restricted Coastal Activity is an activity that is stated in the regional plan (or coastal plan) as a Discretionary or Non-complying activity for which the Minister of Conservation is the person who needs to give consent. An activity can only be specified as a restricted coastal activity in a regional coastal plan. It must be likely to have significant or irreversible adverse effects on the coastal marine area or be likely to occur in an area having significant conservation value.

Right of Way

A Right of Way is a type of easement, which allows the owners of a property access over a portion of another property. A Right of Way can be for vehicles or could be for pedestrians only.

Scheme Plan

A Scheme Plan is a visual layout of what is proposed to be done in the field during a survey. A scheme plan is used as part of a resource consent application.

Section 92 Request

A Section 92 Request is a request by your city, district or regional council for additional information in order to assess your application for resource consent. It is important that an applicant acknowledges a section 92 request to the Council, either agreeing or disagreeing with the request. If the applicant does not acknowledge the request, the Council can decline the application based on there being insufficient information available for them to complete the application.

Section 223 Certificate

Section 223 Certificate is when the District or City Council approves a Title Plan and any easement shown on the plan.

Section 224c Certificate

Section 224c Certificate is when the District / City Council signs a subdivision as having been completed and all the conditions of consent have been complied with, or:

  • A condition requires ongoing compliance and so a consent notice is created and the conditions are registered on it for each Lot; or
  • A condition cannot be complied with at the moment, so a cash bond has been entered into until it can be complied with.

Once section 224c approval is gained a surveyor usually applies for Survey Approval from Land Information New Zealand, and a lawyer can apply for the new titles.

Section 226 Application

A Section 226 Application is when a certificate of title has two or more individually defined parcels that are joined into the same certificate of title. If under the District plan, a subdivision could be done that severs the title through existing identified boundaries, and there is no need for a condition on a resource consent, then a request can be made to the Council to have the amalgamated parcels separated into separate titles. In this situation a request is made under Section 226 of the Resource Management Act 1991. It is important to note that not all Councils allow section 226 applications (for example the Queenstown Lakes District Council).

Section 348 Application

A Section 348 Application is made when a property owner wishes to have a right of way over their property and there is no subdivision being undertaken. In these situations a request is made to the Council for a certificate under section 348 of the Local Government Act 1974. This certificate is registered with a survey plan from a surveyor at Land Information New Zealand.

Servient Tenement

A Servient Tenement is used to describe a property that has an easement over it and whose benefit is for another property or organization.

Subdivision consent

Subdivision consent is a consent to subdivide a property, either by a Fee Simple title, unit development, cross-lease or lease.


Submission means a written submission on a proposed District or Regional Plan, Regional Policy Statement or Resource Consent Application.

Survey Approval

Survey Approval is when LINZ approves a set of plans and reports from the licensed cadastral surveyor.

Survey Office Plan

A Survey Office Plan is a set of plans prepared by a surveyor of land that is held in Crown ownership.

Survey Plan

A Survey Plan is a plan that accurately displays the position of the legal boundaries on a property, including how they were established. These plans are lodged with Land Information New Zealand to obtain the new certificate of title for the new lots. The survey plans show the survey marks and information necessary to determine the areas of lots and the dimensions of the lots, easements and covenants.

Survey Report

A Survey Report is the report written by the Licensed Cadastral Surveyor for Land Information New Zealand outlining the method, assumptions and problems the survey has encountered during the process.

Title Plan

A Title Plan is part of a Cadastral Dataset. A title plan shows all the title information relating to the dimensions and shapes of the subdividing property.

Topographical survey

A topographical survey is an accurate survey of a property which determines the position of structures, site features and services. It includes obtaining ground levels and showing contours of the land. This is often the first plan that is prepared over a property in order to build or subdivide. Having accurate topographical information limits the potential for future problems.

Transfer Document

A Transfer Document is usually identified on a certificate of title. A transfer document can show all the details relating to a transfer of ownership of a property or can have details regarding easements or covenants.

Unit plan

A Unit plan is a graphical record of the boundaries in a unit title subdivision. A unit plan will usually show the location of the units, auxiliary units and common areas.


Variation means alteration by a local authority to a proposed policy statement, plan, or change of conditions to a resource consent decision.

Water permit

A Water permit, is not a coastal permit. A person must obtain consent to take, dam or divert water.