Getting Started

Welcome to S-map Online

S-map Online is a website where you can view soils information using an interactive map viewer and obtain soil factsheets for specific locations. This guide will introduce you to the basics of using the mapping part of the service and how to use the 'Search by soil name' feature.

Create your map

The S-map online website provides maps on specific soil attributes. Clicking on the Maps and factsheets button on the home page or the Map tab will take you to a page where you can select and view soil maps.

Getting started overview

  1. Set map mode - Switch between navigation, zoom box and feature information. Learn more.
  2. Set map scale - Zoom in and out by changing the map's cartographic scale.
  3. Print current map - Open the print window to create a custom PDF. Learn more.
  4. Location search - Search for a particular location using a placename, address or geographic coordinates. Learn more.
  5. Layer metadata - Displays information about the selected map layer. Learn more.
  6. Control which layer is drawn - Tick check boxes to turn layers on or off. Click layer name to view Layer information. Learn more.
  7. Layer transparency - Alter the transparency of the science layers. Learn more.
  8. Legend details - Displays a map key.
  9. Overview map - Shows the larger geographic context of your area of interest. Learn more.
  10. Statistics - Use the area reporting tool to get soil statistics for a particular area and information on soil siblings. Learn More.
  11. Select basemap - Select an underlying basemap.


Control the map

To move around the map, select the 'Navigate' button in the map toolbar (1). Click and drag the map to pan to another location. Double-click to zoom in closer.

To view more or less map detail, use the zoom functions (1). To zoom to a particular portion of the map, use the zoom function. Click on the Zoom Box icon in the top bar. Then go to the area on the map you want to zoom into, and click and hold the mouse button down (the pointer will change to a crosshair). Drag out a box covering the area you are interested in. Release the mouse button. After releasing the mouse button, the map will automatically zoom to the area that was selected. If needed, you can repeat the same steps to zoom further into the area.

You zoom in closer by moving the mouse to the area you are interest in and double-clicking. You can also your mouse's scroll wheel to zoom in and out. Finally, to zoom to a particular scale e.g., 1:25,000, select a scale from the scale drop down menu (2).

To move quickly to a particular part of the country, use the Overview map (9). The Overview map shows you your current location on a smaller scale map and the coverage of the S-map data. You can move the current map view to another location by clicking and dragging the small crosshair or dotted box. To hide the overview map, click on the minus button to the right of the overview map.

Finding a particular place.

If you are looking for a particular place, the quickest way to find it is to use the Location Search tool. The Location Search tool has 3 modes. You can search using the name of a place (the default), an address or coordinates.

To search using a place name

  • Make sure the Tools panel to the left of the map is expanded and that the Place icon is selected.
  • Type the name of a place into the search box.
  • As you type, a list of suggested places will appear. Click a placename to move the map to that location.

To search using an address

  • Make sure the Tools panel to the left of the map is expanded.
  • Click on the address icon
  • Type the address into the search box.
  • As you type, a list of suggested addresses will appear.  Click an address to move the map to that location.

To search using coordinates

  • Make sure the Tools panel to the left of the map is expanded.
  • Click on the coodinates icon
  • Type the coodinates into the search box.  You can type NZTM coordinates (e.g. 1890671, 5819114) or latitude-longitude (e.g. -37.73, 176.29).
  • Press the return key to go to that location on the map.

In all cases, the place you are looking for is shown on the map by a red flashing dot.

Viewing map layers

You can view the different soil layers using the Layers panel on the left (6).

Make sure the Layers panel is expanded by clicking on the icon Show panel. Tick a box to view the layer on the map. Tick another box to view another layer. Only one layer can be viewed at a time on the map. However, you can select specific features (classes) within a layer to view on the map. Note that you need to have zoomed into a scale of 1:100,000 or larger to view the S-map polygons and labels.

View more information about a particular location

Use the Soil Information facility to view more soils information for a particular location. Make sure you have a layer visible on the map (see Viewing Map Layers). Select the Soil Information icon on the top bar (1) and then click the point on the map you are interested in.  After a moment or two, a pop up window will appear (labelled 'S-map soil summary table'). If S-map data is available for this location, the window displays the name of the soils to be found at that location, key soil properties and a confidence rating.

For those land areas for which s-map data is not yet available, the Soil Information feature presents a soil summary table with links to Soil Order and Drainage maps in Landcare Research's Soils portal. The source for this data is the pre S-map Fundamental Soil Layers.

If you click on a location in the Canterbury region for which there is currently no s-map data, the soil information pop up window provides a link to a seperate website, the Interim Canterbury Soils website. Soil factsheets can be obtained for this interim soil data.

If you click on a location where there is no S-map data or alternative data, you will see a message saying 'No S-map data for this point'.

Close a popup window by clicking on the Close popup in the top right corner.

You can have multiple popup windows open at once. To keep a pop-up window visible, click on the pin icon in the top right corner of the window. With Feature Information selected, just click on the other points on the map you interested in.

Viewing a soil factsheet

From the 'S-map soil summary table' you can obtain a factsheet that describes the typical average properties of that specified soil type. Click on a soil name in the table to request a PDF factsheet. After a few moments a window will appear asking you want you want to do with the PDF file. Depending on how your computer is set up, you will either be able to view the PDF file directly or save it on to your computer.

Learning more about a map layer

On the right hand side of the map there is an information panel. This displays background information about the layer (Layer metadata (5)) and further details about particular features (classes) making up a layer (Legend details (7)). To view this information, click on a layer in the Layer panel (6). The active layer will be highlighted.

The Statistics tool

You can obtain soil statistics for an area for each property in a selected layer using the Statistics tool (10). You can obtain reports either for the whole of the map currently being viewed or for an area you define (draw) on the map. You can also use this facility to get a list of all the siblings within an area and the area in hectres they make up.

Make sure the information panel on the right hand side of the map is open and a layer is displayed on the map. Click on the 'Statistics' button. A tabular report will appear under the 'Properties' tab. To view a list of the siblings found in that area, click on the 'Siblings' tab.

By default, a report is produced for the current map extent Map Extent Report icon.  After a moment or two the area values for the specific layer property will be displayed. (The larger the geographic extent of the map, the longer it will take for the statistics to be calculated and displayed. In some cases, because of the complexity of the underlying data, the Statistics tool will not work if the map is displaying a very large geographic extent.)

Select the User defined extent report icon icon to create a report for an area you define on the map. You can then use the mouse to draw an area on the map. 

  • Click on the map to add a point and begin drawing
  • Subsequent clicks will add additional points.
  • Double click to finish and generate a report.

Select the Remove area on map icon icon to remove the area you have drawn on the map.

Select the Map Extent Report icon to switch back to creating a report for the current map extent.

The area values and list of siblings are NOT updated if you pan or zoom to another location or change the map layer. You will need to select the 'Update Report' button to refresh the display. 

Important: Make sure you read the disclaimer presented with each report on how the area values are being calculated.


Download the underlying data

We provide a link in the Layer metadata if the data used to produce a map layer is available for downloading. If you click on the link, the relevant page from the website hosting the data will appear in a new browser window.

Printing a map

Use the Print facility (3) to create printable PDF soil maps in A4 and A3 size, in portrait or landscape layout and at various scales.

  • Click on the Print icon to open the print window. The extent of your map is shown by the orange box. Click on the box and drag it around to change the geographic location of your map.
  • Changing the scale or paper size will affect the amount of detail or the size of the geographic area that will appear on the map.
  • You can enter a title for the map.
  • To request the PDF file, click on 'Create PDF and download' button.

Note: The time it takes to create the PDF file will vary depending upon the complexity, size and scale of the map. You may have to wait a couple of minutes for the file to be created and downloaded. Depending on how your computer is set up, you will either be able to view the PDF file directly or save it on to your computer.

Search by soil name

If you know the name of a soil, use the 'Search by soil name' button on the Home page. Select the region then type in the name or part of the name into the search box. Clicking the Search button with no text in the search box results in a list of all soils currently in S-map in that region. A soil symbol (a short code that was used in local soil surveys) can also be entered into the search box. From the resulting list of matching soils, click on the factsheet link in the Reports column to view the factsheet pdf.

More advanced uses


Altering the transparency of a map layer

You can use the Layer Transparency slider (7) to vary the transparency of a soil layer. This allows you to gradual fade-in/fade-out the layer against the basemap.

Changing the underlying base map

By default, map layers are shown on top of a topographic map. However, some map layers are easier to read on top of alternative base maps (e.g. "monochrome topographic"). You can change the basemap by selecting a different base map in the Layer panel (11).

Resetting the map back to a national extent

At any time you can click on the globe icon on the top bar to reset the map extent back to the whole of New Zealand.

Returning to a previous map view

Use the back arrow in the toolbar to see the maps you were looking at previously.

Maximise the size of the map you can see on the screen

You can hide the left and right information panels, thus increasing the size of the map you can see on the screen. To do this, click on the Toggle sidepanels icon on the top bar. Clicking on this icon again, opens both panels. You can also use the F11 key. There is more information about using the F11 key on the FAQ.