National mapping system enters next stage of evolution

Discovering recreational opportunities in the outdoors has today become even easier thanks to the introduction of major enhancements to the Walking Access Mapping System.

The mapping system has been developed by the New Zealand Walking Access Commission to display publicly accessible land across the country. It uses geographic information system (GIS) technology to display topographical maps and aerial photography of most of the country and includes an enquiry function that enables users to submit questions about access and access disputes direct to the Commission.

Commission Chief Executive Mark Neeson said the enhancements leaving testing today included an improved user interface and mobile functionality that allows users to access the system on smartphones and tablet computers.

A new component has also been added to enable third party organisations to display their own access-related information to the public. That information could include walking, horse riding and cycling tracks, fishing access points, surf beach access points, camp sites, or other outdoor points of interest. This is a creative way to mix and match public and private information on a nationwide basis.

“These enhancements will vastly improve the mapping system as a tool for people planning trips into the outdoors,” Mr Neeson said.

“The mobile functionality allows people to access the mapping system on the go, while the ability for other organisations to display their own data has the potential to make the system the 'go-to' site for people looking for information about recreational opportunities in the outdoors.”

Partner organisations that have so far expressed an interest in uploading their own information to the mapping system include the Department of Conservation, Surf Lifesaving New Zealand, Fish & Game Wellington, Wellington City Council, and Venture Southland. The system displays the locations of outdoor points of interest identified by partner organisations and provides links back to their websites for users who want to find out more.

The mapping system has been developed for the Commission by Geographic Business Solutions, with assistance from Eagle Technology, Terralink International, SQL Services Ltd, LandZone and Planit Software Testing. Project management was handled by LandZone.

The first version of the mapping system was launched to the public on 21 July 2011 and it has since been visited more than 100,000 times.


Mobile functionality
A mobile friendly version of the mapping system is now available for most popular smartphones and tablet computers. The mobile version can make use of mobile devices' GPS functionality. Anybody accessing the site on a smartphone or tablet device will automatically be sent to the mobile version of the site.

Improved interface
The mapping system's user interface has been enhanced to ensure more screen space is dedicated to the maps, making them easier to view and navigate. Many of the system's existing tools have also been improved.

The Partner Information Portal
A 'Partner Information Portal' has been added to the mapping system to enable other organisations to upload their own outdoor access-related information for view by the public. To obtain a login for the portal, organisations must sign a partnership agreement with the Commission.

Partner organisations can mark points of interest on the map using the portal's built-in draw tools, or upload the locations of points and associated information by uploading from a file. The mapping system will also be compatible with map feeds, allowing partners to populate the mapping system with information automatically if they have their own map feed already setup.

For further information on the Walking Access Mapping System: