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Kiwi app a world-first for trip planning

Plan My Walk conveniently brings together a range of information to help trampers safely enjoy the outdoors. Photo: Caleb Smith

Wilderness caught up with the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council to learn more about its new trip planning app, Plan My Walk, and to get an insight into why it was created.

Plan My Walk is the world’s first trip planning tool. It was born from a desire to enable sound planning and preparation when exploring New Zealand’s walking and tramping track network. It has been developed by the NZ Mountain Safety Council (MSC) and is free for trampers and walkers

The app contains extensive information for people planning a trip, including track information, gear lists, alerts and weather forecasts, all of which can be shared with group members and an emergency contact.

It’s taken a while to get to this point. MSC operations manager Nathan Watson said that the results of incident analysis conducted by the council over the past five years indicated that a concerning number of tramping incidents – whether an injury, search and rescue assistance, or tragically never make it home – are mostly avoidable.

MSC found that many of these incidents could have been prevented, or their seriousness reduced, through thorough trip planning and preparation, and sound decision-making, Watson said.

“It’s really easy to underestimate the importance of quality planning and preparation, there are lots of little things that can be easily overlooked. If you’re new to tramping, how do you know where to start and how do you effectively make a trip plan?

“When combined, these small gaps in planning can have a big impact on safety. Conversely, it’s often the little details that go a long way to improving safety.”

The world-first Plan My Walk tool can be found in your app store or online.

Over a seven-year period from 2012 to 2019, MSC found that being ‘unprepared for the weather conditions’ caused 12 per cent of tramping-related search and rescues (SAR), a ‘lack of warm layered clothing and/or a waterproof jacket’ caused 13 per cent, and an ‘overambitious choice of route, lack of sufficient fitness and taking longer than expected to reach the destination’ caused 30 per cent of tramping related SAR.

Through these insights, combined with several other targeted research projects which explored the subject of trip planning and preparation, MSC detailed a range of solutions that could effectively reduce safety incidents caused by ineffective planning. An outcome is Plan My Walk,  which is a simple, effective, and user-friendly digital trip planning tool.

“Since launching in early May, the feedback we’ve received has been really helpful,” Watson said. “It’s confirmed for us that we’re moving in the right direction with the creation of this app. There’s a real sense of excitement amongst current users. We’ve had a lot of feedback as to how it’s already helping.

“PMW is a world-first product that we believe has very real potential to improve the safety of thousands of people, which perfectly aligns with our vision and overall purpose.”

This story is the first in a four-part series for Wilderness. 

Win a Prezzy Card

Have you got a question about Plan My Walk? Email your questions to MSC (info@mountainsafety.org.nz) and wait until the final article in this series for them to be answered. Each question submitted will go in the draw to win a $50 Prezzy Card.

Download the app, Plan My Walk, from your preferred app store, or check it out online at www.planmywalk.nz. Select a track, enter your trip dates and find alerts, an interactive gear list, weather forecasts and much more. Create a trip plan, assign an emergency contact, share it and you’re ready to go!