April 2024

  • The pedotransfer function for soil water content is updated. See here for more detail.

Notes from Previous Releases

December 2023

  • New mapping in this release: 59kHa of in the Taranaki region (Waitara to Hāwera); 9.8kHa in the Tasman region (Motueka and Wakefield areas); 79kHa in the Canterbury region (Banks Peninsula); 143kHa in the Otago region (Catlins area); and 65kHa in Southland (Mokoreta area). 
  • Upgraded mapping. 9.5kHa in the Marlborough region (Awatere Valley). The new Rotorua Lakes to Ōtamarākau S-map soil survey will replace a significant area of existing S-map coverage in the Bay of Plenty region. The area upgraded is approximately 170kHa ha, covering the Rotorua Lakes catchment and north to the coast between the Kaituna River and the Pikowai Stream. Another replaced area is part of the Eltham survey in Taranaki. Further information on these changes is available here.
  • Minor corrections to soil attributes and soil names have been made throughout NZ. 
  • Minor bug fixes have also been completed.

May 2023

  • Various security fixes.
  • Updated to the latest version of Silverstripe CMS.

December 2022

  • 14k ha of new mapping in the Tasman and Marlborough districts (Upper Tākaka/Hāmama, Rai Valley, Kaituna, Linkwater, Pelorus, Koromiko).

August 2022

  • New mapping in this release: 10kHa of in the Northland region (near Moerewa); 48kHa in the Manawatu region (Horowhenua area); 53kHa in the Wellington region (Wairarapa area); and 30kHa in the Canterbury region (upper Rakaia valley). 
  • Upgraded mapping. The new Hauraki/Coromandel S-map soil survey will replace a significant area of existing S-map coverage in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions. The area upgraded is approximately 540,000 ha, covering the Hauraki Plains, Coromandel Peninsula, west side of the Kaimai ranges and Mamaku Plateau. Further information on this change is available here.
  • Minor corrections to soil attributes and soil names have been made throughout NZ. 
  • Three new layers of soil attribute information are available:
    • A new soil carbon concentration layer for all of New Zealand, replacing the existing soil carbon stocks layer. This layer is only suitable for viewing the spatial pattern at a regional scale. It is not accurate at the farm scale.  
    • Susceptibility or vulnerability to nitrate leaching due to soil characteristics.
    • Susceptibility or vulnerability to by-pass flow due to soil characteristics.

The two susceptibility layers are derived from the existing susceptibility classification that until now have only been available on the soil factsheets. These layers cover the current area of S-map coverage and are also downloadable from the LRIS Portal.   

  • Minor bug fixes have also been completed.
  • S-map now covers 37.8% of NZ, including 68.5% of “multiple use land”.

February 2022

  • Clicking on the map now drops a pin. This is simpler than the previous method of doing this where you had to first activate the pin drop mode.
  • Minimum password length has been increased to 10 characters.
  • Various security fixes.
  • Updated to the latest version of Silverstripe CMS.

 August 2021

  • There is 95kHa of new mapping in the Greater Wellington region (Upper Whareama/Tinui catchments, Kapiti & Wellington) and a small area on the north side of Kaipara Harbour, Northland. There is also some updated mapping along the Waimakariri, Rakaia and Rangitata rivers in Canterbury. Minor corrections to soil attributes and soil names have been made throughout NZ. S-map now covers 37.1% of NZ, including 67.7% of “multiple use land”.
  • A new factsheet has been developed targeted at Māori users of S-map Online. This factsheet contains two new features:

    • an assessment of the suitability for growing kūmara based on expert understanding of the impact of soil characteristics and climatic conditions on the growth of kūmara. This expert knowledge was refined based on archaeological evidence of the presence of pre-1840 Māori kūmara gardens.
    • a “landform tree” that shows the landform hierarchy in which the sibling sits. This hierarchy provides the geomorphic context in which the soil was formed.
  • Minor bug fixes.

July 2021

  • Updated Content Management System to SilverStripe 4.
  • Minor bug fixes.

January 2021

  • Minor changes have been made to the user interface and to metadata content.
  • Fixed issues with data layer copyright statements. 
  • Site security improvements.

August 2020

The August 2020 release comprises a significant number of changes to S-map Online and therefore this release note is longer than usual.

In summary the changes are the following.

  • increased s-map coverage of New Zealand
  • three new NZ-wide maps of soil chemistry attributes (soil carbon, pH, phosphorous retention)
  • a new model for estimating soil hydrological properties (including available water)
  • a new tool, Sibling Finder, for guidance in identifying a S-map sibling
  • a new infographics style factsheet for soil mapunits.

A fuller description of each of these new S-map features is provided below.

Increased coverage

Data from some legacy soil maps have now been incorporated into S-map. These include part of Waitotara County (Whanganui lowlands), Kairanga County in the Manawatu, Taieri Uplands in Otago, part of Eltham county in Taranaki, Mowbray catchment in Canterbury, part of Waimea plains in Tasman, Taueru and Huangarua sub-catchments of the Ruamahanga river catchment in the Wairarapa.

New data - The Rollesby Valley in Burkes Pass (Canterbury) has been newly mapped. A large area around the Lower Waikato has also been newly mapped using hybrid digital soil mapping techniques.

Altogether this is an additional 5,000 km2. S-map now covers 36.6% of NZ, including 67.3% of the “multiple use land” (land use capability classes 1-4) in NZ.

New soil chemistry attribute layers

Until now S-map has been a soil map of polygons linked to soil type classes (S-map siblings) and estimates of wide range of soil attributes. S-map data is available where the pedologists have been able to adapt existing legacy maps or undertake new soil survey.

A different approach has been used to generate three new layers of soil information for all of New Zealand. This approach is referred to as digital soil mapping and is where data science methods are used to build a model of the relationship between measured point data, where the properties of soil have been measured, and environmental layers of information (covariates). Because the covariates cover all of New Zealand, so too do the predictions. 

The new layers are soil carbon stocks, pH and phosphorous or P retention, all estimates of topsoil soil chemistry. All three are available on S-map Online and two, soil carbon and pH, are downloadable from the LRIS Portal. Because of the approach and the environmental layers used, as well as the dependence of some soil chemistry information on management of the land e.g. vegetation, tillage, fertiliser, liming, these layers are only suitable for viewing the spatial pattern at a regional scale. They are not accurate at the farm scale.

New estimates of soil water attributes for all siblings

A major update of the soil moisture prediction model in S-map has been funded through a MBIE Endeavour Research programme, resulting in a substantial increase in the measured laboratory data that underpins the model. The number of sites used has been doubled through new sampling and by rescuing legacy data that had not been captured previously in Manaaki Whenua’s National Soil Data Repository. This has increased the number of samples from 1339 (on 313 sites) to 4641 (on 684 sites). The larger data set has resulted in a significantly more robust model. Ten percent (838) of soil siblings were not able to be predicted using the previous 2014 model as the estimate of the prediction error indicated they were too unreliable. Just four siblings remain uncertain in the 2020 model. A beta regression statistical modelling approach was used as described in McNeill et al. (2018).

In the new 2020 model the estimates of Available Water have in general gone down for siblings from the Allophanic, Gley, Pumice, Recent and Ultic NZSC soil orders, and increased for Granular and Semiarid soils. . The impact of the new soil moisture information has been tested in OverseerFM by comparing the nutrient loss results from 32,000 farms. Of these, the Overseer team report that 71% have a change of estimated nitrogen losses of less than ± 10%, but 8% will see an increase of more than 20% of the estimated nitrogen loss/ha. More details are available from Overseer.

Because this is the release of a new national model, all soils in S-map are likely to have a change in the predicted soil water attribute values.

These improved estimates are important for helping New Zealanders achieve environmental and economic outcomes from their land. In particular, more accurate soil moisture information will lead to better knowledge of irrigation demand and nutrient losses. More details are provided in a recent webinar and here.

New sibling finder tool

A series of S-map end user focus groups conducted earlier in the MBIE research programme highlighted the demand for applying S-map data and methods at finer scales. As a result, two new enhancements have been added to our main delivery platform, S-map Online. The Sibling Finder tool is designed to allow land managers to search the S-map database for soil siblings in their area that match observations they have made from a pit they have dug. Once the most likely S-map sibling has been identified, the land manager can then view all the soil properties for that sibling. Note that the Sibling Finder is not designed to be used on Smart Phones.

New soil mapunit factsheet

The second enhancement is the mapunit factsheet, a more graphical and interactive style of factsheet than previous factsheets provided in S-map Online. Using the mapunit factsheet means users can more quickly visualise the soil siblings at a location, making it easier to understand the differences between them, and thus identify the most relevant S-map sibling for a paddock at the farm scale. Users can also visually compare the texture and stone content, permeability and available water of the siblings in the soil mapunit at a selected location. The factsheet also shows where else in the region the soil mapunit can be found. Information on the relevant soil survey is also provided.

December 2019

  • We have made some changes to the user interface to improve your experience when using S-map; this has resulted in layout changes in the mapping application.
  • We now offer 2 types of soil sibling factsheets – ‘improved’ and ‘classic’ in the mapping application. You can choose which type of factsheet you want to view when you click on a soil sibling in the GET REPORTS panel to download a factsheet. The ‘improved’ factsheet provides more information on a sibling; some of the information is presented graphically.
  • Responding to user feedback, we have reinstated a feature from an earlier version of S-map Online. You can now select and compare s-map information for multiple points you select on the map.  This is done in the GET REPORTS panel.
  • We have introduced a new feature, the Tour, which you can use to learn about the features of S-map Online mapping application. Why not take the tour now. It’s available from the Help menu.
  • You can already save the locations of points you had selected on the map to revisit them later. You can now also do this with areas you draw on the map to generate an area report. You can do this for land parcels not just areas you draw on the map.  
  • Finally, alongside land parcels, you can now display and generate area statistics for Māori land parcels. Maori land parcels are available in the Context Layers of the Layer panel.

August 2019

  • New areas of S-map in this update include Lyttleton Harbour, upper Waimakariri (Canterbury), West Coast, Wairarapa, and Rarangi (Marlborough).For the Hawkes Bay there is a regional map update, with new mapping to infill gaps in the high country, and some adjustments to map units to improve the continuity of the soil mapping throughout the region.Updates have also occurred in some regions through an internal S-map database quality assurance system that identifies siblings with mutually inconsistent soil properties. For example, a sibling classified as Gley soil order cannot be well drained. Siblings that were entered more than 8 years ago were not subject to these comprehensive QA checks. This update includes corrections to many of the early siblings, including soil classification, root barrier, depth and estimates of clay, silt, sand content. The corrections are usually minor but in a few areas are likely to result in changes to estimates of the soil moisture content values used in OVERSEER and profile available water. Minor issues with the geometry from the first areas to go into the S-map database have been corrected including very small gaps, slivers, tiny polygons and some larger overlapping polygons.

  • The service has been moved to the cloud - this will reduce issues relating to performance, e.g. the print function is now faster, and when we do updates in the future the service should be unavailable for much shorter periods.

August 2018

  • S-map data update - There is new S-map coverage in the Hawkes Bay (northern Hawkes Bay), Wellington (Porirua) and Canterbury (Port Hills). Minor corrections to soil attributes and soil names have been made throughout NZ.

February 2018

  • S-map data update - There is new S-map coverage in the Grey Valley, West Coast and in the foothills of the Four Peaks Range, south Canterbury. The Franklin area has been remapped, replacing the legacy map – part Franklin County, as well as extending coverage west to Waiuku, south to Onewhero/Pukekawa and east onto the Bombay Hills. The extent was defined by the geology of the South Auckland area; in particular the basalt volcanoes. The Four Peaks Range foothills and Franklin area were mapped using new digital soil mapping techniques, whereas the Grey Valley is based on the legacy survey, NZ Soil Survey Report 46, Mew G (1980) Soils, forestry and agriculture of the Grey Valley, South Island, New Zealand.

  • Minor big fixes. Improved place name search facility.

January 2018

  • Updated the version of the Silverstripe CMS used by S-map Online.

September 2017

  • Release of new version of S-map Online (version 2.0). 
  • The application should work on most desktop operating systems e.g. Windows 7 and 10, and with most newer versions of browsers.
  • The application has been designed and implemented to also work on tablets and mobile devices. However, with the huge number of tablets and mobile devices available we could only test the most common ones and we cannot therefore guarantee that you won't encounter problems, particularly with the layout. Please use the Contact Us form to provide us with feedback on any problems you encounter.
  • As well as the new look and feel, all the basemaps have been updated, land parcels have been added as a new context layer (maps provided directly from the LINZ Data Service), these can be used when generating area statistics, and you can now save the locations you selected on the map and queried to use in a later session.

May 2017

  • New mapping has been added in Canterbury (Lake Heron, Upper Selwyn and Rangitata terraces). Minor corrections to soil attributes and soil names have been made throughout NZ. The need for a ‘Level1’ or ‘Level2’ suffix in the sibling name used in OVERSEER has been removed. A new NZ soil classification layer has also been added which colours soils on soil order.

October 2016

  • The website has been completely revised.  It now uses Silverstripe for content management and includes a user registration capability so that we can have a better understanding of who our users are and can better understand and meet their needs.  The underlying mapping services and functions have not been changed. 

September 2016

  • New mapping in the Waikato (Waipa) and in Northern Hawke's Bay (Tutaekuri, Ahuriri, Ngaruroro and Karamu catchments - 'TANK') has been added.

June 2016

  • As a consequence of S-map data now being directly available in the OVERSEER® Nutrient Budget model we have removed the soils data required for OVERSEER from the factsheets. The OVERSEER® Nutrient Budget now just requires you to provide the sibling name shown on the factsheet. When using OVERSEER just
    • ​Select the link to S-map
    • Under S-map sibling data enter: <> e.g. Keepa_2a.1

February 2016

  • New mapping in the Lake Heron area of Canterbury has been added along with a small area in the Gisborne region. Full soil moisture data for input into OVERSEER is now provided for all Canterbury soils.
  • Also for those wanting soils data for the Canterbury Region, if you click on a location in Canterbury for which there is currently no s-map data, the soil information pop up window now provides a link to a new website, the Interim Canterbury Soils website, which has interim soil data. Soil factsheets can be obtained for this interim soil data.

December 2015

  • License changed from Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 New Zealand License (BY-ND) to Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 New Zealand License (BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ).

June 2015

  • New/revised mapping in south Canterbury and in the Hawkes Bay has been added.
  • A few minor corrections have been made to some of the pedo-transfer functions.
  • A new version of the report functionality, 'Statistics', has been implemented. The figures provided in the tables now take account of all siblings in a polygon and not just the dominant one. See 'Getting Started' for information on how to use this feature.
  • Along with Statistics you can get a list of all the siblings within an area, the area in hectres they make up and the percentage proportion of that area.

April 2015

  • The factsheets have been updated to reflect the soil properties users should enter into OVERSEER Nutrient Budgets v6.2.
  • A description of the hydrological pedotransfer functions can be found here.
  • Minor corrections to some of the hydrological pedotransfer functions has resulted in some changed properties for a few soils.

November 2014

  • New areas in the Auckland region have been added.
  • A few minor corrections have been made to some of the pedo-transfer functions.
  • The Overseer page on the factsheets has been altered to provide additional soil properties where they are available. These values enable a more accurate description of the soil in Overseer.

February 2013

  • Minor changes made to the user interface.
  • Moved whole service to a more stable production infrastructure.
  • Minimum scale at which Smap boundaries can be viewed changed from 1:100,000 to 1:250,000.
  • Soil information pop up window now re-sizable.

July 2014

  • New areas that have been added to S-map Online include the lowlands in Otago/Southland, Hanmer Basin, Greymouth-Hokitika, and Cheviot to Kaikoura. There is also new mapping in the Manawatu and around Otaki.
  • The Profile Available Water (PAW) pedo-transfer function has been further improved. This has resulted in revised PAW estimates for all soils, and changes to some risk categories.
  • The Overseer fields on the factsheets have been updated. The s-map reference name now has an additional character e.g. Raka_3.1 is now Raka_3a.1. Various other minor corrections have been made to the data and factsheets.

June 2014

  • Area report visualizations have been disabled.
  • The Help pop-up window now only appears once in a session.
  • It is now possible to make the mapping window full screen. Use the 'Toggle full screen' button in the top menu bar.
  • Made various user interface changes so that S-map Online now gives a better experience for tablet users. (Note: S-map Online can be used on smart phones but there are known usability problems.)

December 2013

  • S-map database updated. S-map coverage has been extended to include new areas in Canterbury, Waikato and the Hawkes Bay. The new mapping in the Hawkes Bay has involved developing some new Digital Soil Mapping (DSM) techniques applied to a new 5 m Digital Elevation Model (from GeoEye stereo imagery). Various minor corrections have also been made to soil polygon labels throughout New Zealand.
  • You can now obtain an indication of the area of each feature (class) in the selected layer using the report feature.  You can obtain reports either for the whole of the map currently being viewed or for an area you define (draw) on the map. More information on this new capability can be found on the 'Getting Started' page.
  • For those land areas for which s-map data is not yet available, the Soil Information feature presents links to Soil Order and Drainage maps in Manaaki Whenua's Soils portal. The source for this data is the pre S-map Fundamental Soil Layers.

July 2013

  • S-map coverage has been extended to include new areas in the Gisborne, Waikato, Canterbury, Auckland and West Coast regions. Some of the Bay of Plenty (Mamaku Plateau) has been updated. Various minor corrections have been made to soil polygon labels throughout New Zealand. Factsheet terms are now linked to the Glossary (which has been extended).
  • A major update has been made to the way that Profile Available Water (PAW) is calculated. This has resulted in significant changes in PAW, particularly increases in PAW estimates for soils formed from pumice and volcanic ash. Some of these changes are so large that they significantly alter estimates of soil water uptake and drainage from these soils. This may affect consents for water that are based on PAW, irrigation demand calculations, nutrient loss modelling, and other risk assessment or environmental impact studies. Further information on this change can be found in the FAQ.
  • Changes have also been made to S-map online so that it now runs properly in Internet Explorer 10.

Known Problems

  • GPS location feature does not work when using Safari Macbooks.


Last updated: December 7th 2023