One fun and cool thing we did on our recent New Zealand trip was take along a hand-held GPS device, loaned to us by our wonderful friend Frank Campagna, so that we could mark locations we visited. The GPS came in very handy when driving, as well, as we did have any other New Zealand maps with us, other than those in the guide books or tourist magazines we picked up along the way.
Frank’s GPS is an eTrex Legend, which is a good, solid, basic GPS available from Garmin. The device has US maps burned into it, but you can also buy additional maps and load them on the device so that it gives you more than the basic longitude/latitude/altitude info when you leave the US. I picked up a copy of the Garmin WorldMap CD on eBay for about $50, which I loaded on to the eTrex. These maps did not give the detail of the US street level mapping, but it was enough to help us get around cities and get between towns. Overall, the system worked really, really well and made the trip much more enjoyable.
Along the way, we saved particular long/lat points on the GPS that we wanted to look up later. Using Google Earth, it is actually pretty easy to find a lot of the locations of the highlights of the trip. However, using the GPS, I’m able to find some locations that are not really clear on Google Earth, given the current low-resolution of most of their New Zealand image data.
First, a word about Google Earth. Chances are, if you are reading this, I’ve probably had a chance to tell you in person how much I love Google Earth, especially as a fun, basic, fast GIS tool. If you don’t already have it installed on your computer (and your computer is less than 3 years old), go to the Google Earth website, download it, and install it. They have versions for Windows and Mac OS, so there’s really no excuse for not using this wonderful free tool.
Once you have Google Earth installed, there are quite a few things that you can do with it. One of my favorite is saving a location to file (Google Earth calls them KMZ files) that you can email to someone or post on a web page, and someone else can open it up and Google Earth will take them to that location. You can also chain locations together in a KMZ file to create a virtual flying tour from place to place within the Google Earth interface.
Below, I’ve posted links to a few KMZ files that will take you to locations where I took photos in New Zealand. Using Google Earth, you can see the view from space of the place where I took the photo. Previously, you could show someone on a map where you were when you took a particular photo, but now, using Google Earth, you can give them a different perspective on the same landscape in the photograph.
Note: You have to have Google Earth installed on your computer and have your web browser configured to pass KMZ files to Google Earth in order for these links to work for you.
Jaymie’s Tree in Blenheim – This is the tree that Jaymie picked out before we went on the trip and that we visited when we got to Blenheim.
Interislander Ferry Moving Through Marlborough Sounds – This location came froma GPS coordinate (S 41 14 30.6, E 174 03 28.2) pulled off of the eTrex. Right after I took this coordinate with the eTrex, I shot these photos of Picton as we pulled into port.
Kaikoura Panographic Photo – This is the location where I took a panographic photo I hope to post soon. In the meantime, these are more basic photos of the same area.
Te Pukatea, Abel Tasman National Park – This is the beach Kath and I hiked to on the Abel Tasman coastal trail.
City of Westport, Western South Island, New Zealand – This is the mouth of the river, near the hostel where we stayed.
I’ll post some more of these, eventually, if it turns out anyone enjoys them. Leave a comment if you want me to post more.