The Great Walks on Google Maps

Department of Conservation —  06/11/2015

New Zealand’s rugged mountain peaks, native forests and pristine lakes can now be viewed from anywhere in the world!

Seven of the Great Walks have been mapped by Google Maps using their Google Trekker technology. The maps document the awe-inspiring sights of the Rakiura, Milford, Heaphy, Lake Waikaremoana, Routeburn, Kepler and Abel Tasman Coast tracks.

Prime Minister John Key launched the maps yesterday with the Google Trekker inventor himself, Steven Silverman, at the Air New Zealand Collaboration and Innovation Centre in Auckland.

The mapping project has been a work in progress for DOC and Google since 2012, involving local iwi, DOC’s geospatial team, marketing team, and local staff who assisted with planning the trips.

GIS Analyst Peter Hiemstra accompanied the Google Trekker on most of the walks, documenting the journey in pictures along the way.

We take you on a visual journey behind the scenes:

Routeburn Track

Matt Jenke, the Google Trekker experiencing the stunning views of the Routeburn Track with Peter Hiemstra and Iwi rep Riki Mules.

Kepler Track

Google Trekker on the Kepler track. Photo by Peter Hiemstra

Google Trekker Matt is just a speck against the landscape!

Milford Track

Check out that sun! Matt the Google Trekker was blessed with one of the few days in a year Milford Track is without rain.

However it didn’t last long… when Matt reached Mackinnon pass, the clouds well and truly made their way back over. He looks a bit like an alien surrounded by the clouds in the shot above don’t you think?

Rakiura Track

Maori Beach on Rakiura Track. Photo by Peter Hiemstra

Matt sets off from the golden sands of Maori Beach on Rakiura Track. It once was the site of a Maori Village but later became a settlement based around a Sawmill. The remains of a boiler and a steam engine are worth checking out nearby.

The team completed the Rakiura Track in a staggering 7 hours! It was certainly time for a good beer.

How do you celebrate your hike?

Abel Tasman Coast Track

Abel Tasman Coast Track. Photo by Peter Hiemsta

The team stopped to admire the golden sands of Abel Tasman Coast Track on a beautiful day!

Heaphy Track

Heaphy Track and the Google Trekker. Photo by Peter Hiemstra

The Heaphy Track needed a fair bit of planning since it’s the longest of the Great Walks (78.4 kilometres). Three sets of heavy batteries offered around 18 hours of walking time in total, and the challenge was to complete it 2 days, carrying 30 kilograms!

The boys had an amazing journey across some of the most beautiful areas of New Zealand. It’s fantastic that everyone can now experience them too – virtually – on Google maps.

3 responses to The Great Walks on Google Maps


    Amazing that Google is going to areas we can’t drive!


    Yikes that man deserves a medal for carrying that equipment on those trails. Good job!

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  1. 2015: A year in photos « Conservation blog - December 30, 2015

    […] November: Great Walks on Google Maps. […]