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Improved online mapping system allows for better trip planning

Walking Access Mapping System allows users to draw their own route maps with ease. Photo: Walking Access Commission

It’s now even easier to explore New Zealand’s backcountry, with an improved online mapping system that allows for personalised route-planning.

Designed by the New Zealand Walking Access Commission, the Walking Access Mapping System is a free tool that allows users to research public access areas and plan trips. The system, available since 2012, is now more user-friendly with upgrades to allow people to export data and upload route plans to view against the mapping system’s public access information.

The online application is commonly used for planning routes, but also allows people to send route inquiries to the Walking Access Commission – particularly useful if there’s an obstruction to access. The mapping system also allows users to mark points of interest, add labels or annotations, mark routes, draw on top of topographic maps, and download their drawings to use later or send in an email.

“There’s more functionality if you’re trying to draw along a route, or trying to gauge how far it is from one point to another – you can do that more accurately,” said the Walking Access Commission’s James Heffield. He says the upgrades should provide more detailed public land information, giving users a chance to explore new areas.

“You might be able to find routes to that hidden fishing spot, or a new way to reach a hut that you’ve always wanted to go to, or you might find a good place to launch your kayak or raft, or just a nice way to get to the coast,” Heffield said.