Android App Review: New Zealand’s Great Walks

New Zealand’s Great Walks is exactly what it should be: information about the Great Walks, collected into an easy to use format.

The Great Walks are nine hiking tracks managed by the Department of Conservation, which showcase New Zealand’s landscape at its finest. The Great Walks app tells you what you need to know about each of the tracks, along with general advice for tramping in New Zealand.

For each track it gives you information about what to take, when to go, what you can expect to see, and a brief history if the area and the track itself.

There’s also handy general information about things like hut passes and stuff which is the sort of detail that a proper hiker will know they need to look into, but that a novice like me wouldn’t even think to consider.

The information about each specific walk is contained in its own little download, so you only use bandwidth getting the ones you want. I thought this would be the moment where they sting you for money – the app itself is free, but I wondered if you’d have to pay for the individual tours. But no, they’re all free too. So that’s nice.

It’s all nicely laid out and easy to find your way around (which is a good thing, for an app based around navigating the wilderness) and although it’s primarily about written information, each page has one or two photos showing off some of the scenery from that particular walk. So it’s a pretty app as well.

I doubt there’s really anything here that you couldn’t get from various sources on the internet, but what this app offers you is all your Great Walks information condensed into one handy, navigable package.

I’m not sure how useful the app would be actually on the walk – even if you disregard the generally weak battery life of most modern phones, this app’s information is probably more for pre- and post-walk education. There is a map function but it seemed a bit clunky and slow to load, at least on my phone.

Besides, no matter how good the map on your phone is, it’s only that good until you drop it into a river or down the side of a mountain. Better to stick to paper when you’re out in the wild, but in the meantime this app is a great way to prepare (and get excited) for an upcoming trip.

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