Returned from the land of the Kiwis

Corrie on the trailKia Ora!

After much traipsing about the world, I finally made it back from the wonderful, wild world of New Zealand.

Let me state first, and foremost, you must go. There is little doubt why Lord of the Rings was filmed there. The landscape is simply stunning, the people are friendly, the native Maori culture is engaging, I have a new appreciation and fascination with birds (yay Weka!), and the beers are amenable when you can find a brewpub (the wines are already well known).

Some Advice for the Traveler

A couple of bits of advice: go a little off-season, like March. "High Season" isn't Disney{land, world}, but it's still a little more difficult to find some accommodations/reservations. Apparently March is an excellent time: still warm, calm weather, and the baby seal pups are just becoming curious and exploratory and are fun to play with.

Rent a camper-van, one of those mini-van conversions with a bed and little cook area. This will allow you to camp besides streams, in the mountains, picnic with astonishing views, but still allow you to navigate the roadways and stay in better accommodations every once in awhile.

Prepare thyself for some exciting driving. The roads are almost all two-lane, incredibly windy (think looking over a cliff less than a foot away), narrow, and on the wrong-damn-side. And that's just the highways (because they're paved). But everything is very well labeled/signed, but take along a GPS-system too, just to make sure you're going the right way.

Don't eat Vegemite - it's something that was made in times of dire need, which we don't live in, so don't eat it. Munch on something like cute cuddly lamb instead for goodness sake.

But what did you do?

All said, we drove more than 2700 miles through (deep-breath): Auckland, Waitakere Ranges, Nikau Caves, Whangarei, Matopeka, Russel, Kauri Forests, Poor Knights Island, Rotorua, Taupo, Tongariro National Park, Wellington, Picton, Renwick, Nelson, Motueka, Abel Tasman National Park, Hokitika, Fox Glacier, Te Anau, Milford Sound, Invercargill, the Caitlins, Dunedin, Oamaru, and Christchurch.

The great part about driving around a country like New Zealand is the ability to stop and enjoy the view or tramp through the woods whenever the fancy strikes you. For us, this was quite often. As a rule of thumb we added 20% travel time during any of our trips for these stops.

On the road IT

Each night I spent probably about 30 minutes dealing with "data management" - downloading GPS tracks, pictures, annotating, journal entry. There really must be a better way to manage this much data, especially en route, but also not be overwhelmed with it on return. I've found that internet access on travel is unreliable. Even when it is available it can be expensive, and restricted to a kiosk-type machine without any ability to upload your own data through them.

The photos are available on my Flickr page. I still need to go through an geotag them, as I was having problems geotagging the EXIF of RAW images using some of the automation techniques. I've also put up a blog of the travels in the GeoPress demo blog at

Over the next week I'll be cleaning up more photos, and uploading the megabytes of tracklogs I've accumulated to OpenStreetMap in order to hopefully kick off interest in the project in New Zealand (or at least to other OSMers traveling to NZ)

Unfortunately, due to traveling through Wellington on New Years Day, I didn't get to meet up with some of NZ's finest mappers, ProjectX Technologies (developers of ZoomIn), or Mark Zeman (developer of TripperMap).

It was a tremendous endeavor that really introduced us to a lot and was thoroughly enjoyable, if a little fast paced. After just 3 weeks in New Zealand we spent 2 days whirlwind through Seoul, South Korea, and then back to Washington, DC via San Francisco, and a long 10 hour drive back to Michigan.

More to come...

I have some rather exciting announcements to share, but as it's late, and I'm all kinds of jet-lagged/worn out, I'll post about it later.

About this article

written on
posted in Travel Back to Top

About the Author

Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.