Soil data and maps

S-map and S-map Online

The digital soil map for New Zealand

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How to access

You can access the S-map Online service using the above link. A sub-set of data is available from the LRIS Portal. If you require custom versions of S-map data, please do get in touch with us.

Key features
Polygon based soil map data units
Digital format
National soil correlation
Describes soil to a depth of 1m
Use S-map Online to explore soil maps and download soil factsheets
Incorporates knowledge of map unit variability and uncertainty

As of August 2020, S-map coverage stood at 36.6% of New Zealand soils with more than two thirds (67.3%) of multiple use land (horticulture, cropping and intensive pasture systems) covered.


Launched in 2002. Layers are updated as new versions of data become available.


S-map data are available under various licences. S-map maps and fact sheets are © Manaaki Whenua New Zealand Limited. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution - No Derivative Works 3.0 New Zealand License (BY-ND).

The sites linked to from this website have their own copyright/licence terms and conditions, and users should familiarise themselves with those terms and conditions.

S-map is Manaaki Whenua’s ongoing project to map New Zealand's soil resources at a nominal 1:50 000 scale. S-map Online is the web delivery service for S-map and has been developed and is operated by Manaaki Whenua's Informatics team.

As of August 2020, S-map coverage stood at 36.6% of New Zealand. More than two-thirds (67.3%) of New Zealand’s multiple use land (LUC 1-4: horticulture, cropping, and intensive pasture systems) has been covered by S-map, but less than a quarter for the other land use classes (LUC 5-8: extensive pasture/forestry and conservation) have been covered. Coverage varies greatly between regions, reflecting the availability of legacy surveys at an appropriate scale and the degree of investment by different regional councils in soil mapping. Waikato (72%), Bay of Plenty (59%) and Canterbury (46%) are the regions with highest S-map coverage. When completed, S-map will provide harmonized soil mapping for New Zealand to support a vast array of applications at local, regional, and national scales.

The S-map project has integrated existing surveys and undertaken a number of new surveys to increase coverage and harmonize mapped soil attributes and properties. The system uses an inferencing engine to infer soil property information where this would otherwise be unavailable. This system is a key component in supporting sustainable development and scientific modelling within New Zealand.

S-map's primary map layer is soil classes, i.e. delineated areas that are labelled with the soil family name. Each soil family is defined as a unique combination of attributes (NZSC classification, parent material, rock type, dominant texture and permeability class). Soil classes are further characterised as siblings. A sibling is a member of a soil family. The sibling partitions soil families on the basis of unique combinations of drainage class, topsoil stoniness, soil depth, texture contrasts, and a sequence of up to six functional horizons. Functional horizons are defined in terms of topsoil/subsoil, stoniness class, texture class, ped size, and consistence. Functional horizons also distinguish soil materials derived from acidic and basic tephra.

The type of data available for each map unit includes:

  • NZSC Order, Group, Subgroup
  • Parent material
  • Rock class
  • Texture
  • Permeability
  • Depth class
  • Drainage
  • Rooting depth
  • Profile Available Water (derived)

For each functional horizon data includes: field capacity, wilting point, bulk density, P retention, and pH. These data are derived using models.

There is also a layer available with predictions for soil carbon stocks at 0-30cm depth (not functional horizon-based).


Read more

Major update of S-map Online soil data (August 2020)