How to find a map

Start with LibrarySearch. In general there is one catalogue record for each map series, with the individual map titles within that series listed in the record.  More recent map purchases have be listed by individual title.

For example: to find maps of Banks Peninsula enter Banks Peninsula map in LibrarySearch.  On the results page use the tools on the left of the page to limit your results by content type Maps.

A keyword search for Topo50  will find the NZTopo50 series. To find individual map titles you could also refer to the printed indexes on top of  or inside selected map cabinets.

Where are they?

Maps are located in the map cabinets on Level 0 or filed alongside books in the general collection.

Maps in the Book and Reference Collection (Level 0)

Atlases of the world are located in the Reference Collection at G 1021.
Road atlas and street directories of NZ are located in the Reference or Main Collection at G2796 .P2

Maps in the Poster Collection (Level 0)

To find maps in the poster collection do a keyword search in LibrarySearch combining poster with your topic e.g. forest poster.
Useful titles include: Commercial Forestry, Port Hills Drive, Undersea New Zealand.

What does scale mean?

Maps are available in different scales. The scale on a map is the relationship between the distance on the map and the distance on the ground. This relationship is usually expressed as a fraction e.g. 1/10 000 or a ratio e.g.1:10 000. This fraction or ratio indicates 1 unit on the map is representative of 10 000 of the same unit on the ground. The unit of measurement may be centimetres or inches. The first number in the scale is always 1, but the second number is different for each scale. Some of the commonly used scales are:

  • 1:63 360 – which is 1 inch to 1 mile
  • 1:250 000 – which is 1 centimetre to 2.5 kilometre
  • 1:10 000 – which is 1 centimetre to 1 kilometre

What types are there?

The map collection includes the following types:

  • Topographical maps
  • Cadastral maps
  • Land Resource Inventory maps
  • Erosion and Soil maps
  • Geological map
  • Climatic maps
  • Farm Location maps
  • National Parks and Forest Park
  • Bathymetric and Sediments maps
  • South Island Pastoral Run maps
  • World maps

A  topographic map is a graphical representation of a portion of the Earth’s surface including natural and man-made features. An important aspect of a topographic map is the use of contour lines to describe surface features. The map collection includes the newest series NZTopo50 2009 as well as previous series.

The Library also has access to online topographical maps via FreshMap and the MapToaster Topo/NZ Database. Open the ONLINE MAPS tab for these.

A legal map for recording ownership of property. The library holds the New Zealand cadastral map 1:50 000 series. Located in map cabinet 2.

New Zealand Land Resource Inventory Worksheets
These worksheets/maps provide two sets of land resource information:

  • Land Resource Inventory – providing details on rock type, soil, slope, erosion and vegetation which is presented in a code form.
  • Land Use Capability – providing an assessment of the lands capacity for productive use and is represented by a unit eg Vllw1.

The worksheets should be used in conjunction with the relevant extended legend which are shelved in the first drawer of map cabinet 3.

Refer to the Index to NZLRI Sheets on top of map cabinet 3 to find the right map for your area (N series covers the North Island and S series for the south, all shelved in cabinet 3). For further explanations on the Land Resource Inventory & Land Use Capability refer to the booklet “Our Land Resources”.

Land Inventory Survey
We have just 3 titles of this type: Waimairi (1972), Ohinemuri (1968) and Westland (1970). These are in boxed sets on map cabinet 5. There is some variation in the maps for each area but generally the map titles are: Soils, Geology, Potential Pastoral Use of Soils, Land Cover, Land Tenure, & Land Use.

Soil Maps
Refer to the Soil Maps tab on this page. This includes details about the soil maps in the map cabinets and how to find soil maps published in serials using the Directory of New Zealand Soil Survey Maps (an index to maps published prior to 1983).

Geological Maps
Geological Maps series (New Zealand Geological Survey) are located in map cabinet 2 or the general collection:

  • Geological map of New Zealand 1:250 000 [cartographic material]
    Located at QE348.2 Geo

In addition to a serial record for this series each map has an individual catalogue record as well. A keyword search in LibrarySearch will provide a list of what the Library holds, e.g. geology maps canterbury  then limit results to Content Type = maps.

Climatic Maps

The New Zealand Meteorological Service miscellaneous publication (NZ Met. S. misc. pub.) located at QC851 NZ,  includes a Climatic Map series, scale 1:2 000 000.  The Climatic Maps are contained in folders with the following titles:

  • Climatological Stations
  • Climatic Regions
  • Soil Temperatures
  • Air Temperatures
  • Rainfall Network
  • Seasonal Rainfall

To find further information try a keyword search in LibrarySearch, e.g. climate otago.

Forest Class Maps
The Ecological Survey of New Zealand’s Indigenous Forests (Forest Class Maps) are in pamphlet boxes on map cabinet 5. Use the Forest Class maps to locate the different types of indigenous forests eg. beech, kauri, rimu, in particular regions.
To determine which map number to use for a particular region consult the Index to Forest Class Maps. The most recent maps in this series were published between 1970 – 1990.

New Zealand Forest Service Mapping Series 1
These maps are in a pamphlet box on top of map cabinet 5. These maps show locations of state indigenous forests, state exotic forests, private exotic forests, national parks and scenic reserves. They were published the 1970s.

Online Maps

Available to staff/students:

  • FreshMap (NZ topographic and cadastral maps). Access is from the Library Web databases page. You can search down to the level of a street address/road. Digital so the maps are clearer than those in MapToaster.
  • MapToaster Topo/NZ Database Displays the NZ Topomap series in various scales; 1:50,000, 1:250,000, 1:500,000, 1:1 million, and 1:2 million. Aerial photos covering around 50% of the country are also available. Access is from on campus only, start from the Library Web databases page.

Available free online:

  • Environment Canterbury’s GIS Mapping system shows the location of wells, resource consents, soil information, land parcels (legal boundaries, ownership, size).
  • Ngāi Tahu's Kā Huru Manu has over 1,000 original Māori place names, kā ara tawhito (traditional travel routes), and the original Māori land allocations in the Ngāi Tahu takiwā.
  • LINZ Maps & Topographic Services allows download of topographic map image files.
  • Māori Maps, administered by Te Potiki National Trust, provides a nationwide map of marae, with photos of each marae, contact and background information and photographs.
  • S-map online – Landcare Research. Interactive maps of New Zealand soil properties.

See also the Atlas of New Zealand Multimedia at G2795 Atl.
This CD is of a limited use. It can only be used if people take it home and install it on their own PC. The CD contains a 1:250 000 terrain map of NZ, plus satellite images and Captain Cook’s original map of NZ. It also includes information on NZ locations from Wises “Discover New Zealand” guide.

Soil maps

The library has a variety of soil maps covering New Zealand, the Pacific, Asia and Europe. NZ soil maps are produced by the NZ Soil Bureau, DSIR (as Bulletins or Reports), or Landcare Research.

How the maps are organized

Soil maps of the South Island (Soil Bureau Bulletin No.27, maps 1-13), are kept in Map Cabinet 2 (Level 0). Most other Soil Bureau Bulletin maps are shelved at S590 SOI (Level 2).

Map Cabinet 2 includes:
Christchurch and Canterbury
Maps covering the South Island
Soils of the Edendale District
Soils of the Upper Waitaki Basin
Soils of the Wairau Plains
NZ Land Inventory (Northern North Island only)
Soil map of NZ

Map Cabinet 3 includes:
The NZ Land Resource Inventory Worksheets: Detail rock type,oils, slope, erosion & vegetation and land use capability for all regions. Complete legends and an introduction can be found in the top draw of Cabinet 4.

The Land Inventory Survey Maps for Waimairi (1972), Ohinemuri (1968) and Westland (1970) include soil maps. These are in boxed sets on top of Map Cabinet 5.

How to find a soil map for a specific area

Search for place and soil map, e.g. “wairau valley” soil map
This search will check if the publication is in the Library and its location

Directory of New Zealand Soil Survey Maps
Copies are kept on Map Cabinet 5 in the Library’s map area.

Notes for using the directory are located on page 1.
Find the citation to the publication that contains a soil map of your area. Not all areas of NZ are covered, in some cases only part of a region has been surveyed. District names may have changed since this directory was published, so check under superseded names.

Other Resources

Serials with soil maps
DSIR Bulletin S179.9 DSI
Soil Bureau Bulletin S590 Soi
NZ Soil Bureau Report S590 NZ
Single Factor Map S590 NZ
World Soil Resources Reports S590 Wor
NZ soil classification
NZ Soil Classification S590 Lan
Soil Groups of NZ S599.N45 Soi
General Survey of the Soils of South Island NZ S590 Soi
New Zealand soils portal
Descriptive information, maps, and database information about New Zealand soils. Includes access to Landcare soils databases: National Soils Database, Fundamental Soils Layers, New Zealand Land Resource Inventory, and Digital Soil Surveys. Use the menu to navigate to soil names and soil data.