An exciting area to work in, the hydrographic industry has many links and associations within both public and private sectors.

Stemming from the Greek Hudro - meaning 'water' and Graphos, meaning 'written,' hydrography is the science of seas, lakes and rivers.

In physical terms, this includes the mapping of seabeds, searching for minerals, land reclamation surveys and the analysis of dams, lakes and waterways. Technologies and technical skills relating to surveying, computing, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), depth sounding and sonar continue to play an increasingly important role.

Marine science, geomatics and surveying are applied sciences that have strong links with hydrography. The following list gives an indication of the roles and tasks that these professional sciences entail:

  • Positioning oil-rigs, pipelines and sub-sea cables.
  • Environmental impact studies.
  • Preparing maps and charts for maritime, defence and commercial fishing use.
  • Research of resource use for quota management.
  • Design and engineering of dams and lakes for hydroelectric projects.
  • Land reclamation surveys.
  • Port and shipping channel safety including monitoring tidal information and channel dredging.

Many opportunities exist in the disciplines that support the industry. Some of these include:

  • Electrical and civil engineering.
  • Computer and information science.
  • Planning and law.
  • Environmental research.
  • Commercial Fisheries & Shipping.

Hydrography combines information and physical resources through its inter-disciplinary components and develops the potential for large scale commercial activity while supporting the sustainable use of resources through research and monitoring.


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The University of Otago

The University of Otago offers a number of degree options and postgraduate qualifications through the Department of Surveying and the Department of Marine Science which operates the Portobello Marine Lab. In addition a dedicated coastal vessel is used for offshore hydrographic surveying.

The industries associated with hydrography work closely with related universities to ensure a steady stream of well educated graduates are employed each year. Graduates from this School are sought after both by New Zealand and overseas companies.

To see more career opportunities visit this YouTube site website or The Royal New Zealand Navy website