Often criticised for taking their fair share while on the road, freedom campers are now ‘giving back’ by helping to map local amenities all across New Zealand, thanks to a free smartphone application developed by a Christchurch man.
Available for free via Google Play and the App store, CamperMate uses the GPS function of smartphones to map points of interest in the vicinity. Public toilets, rubbish bins, campsites, free wifi and supermarkets are just some of the things it covers.
The latest version now allows users to submit locations of amenities or spots they find on their travels. Over 400 new locations, from all corners of New Zealand, have been approved since the new version went live four weeks ago, adding to the 10,000 locations already on the app.
“Recording these coordinates all around New Zealand makes it easier for the next person to be a responsible camper, hopefully reducing the damage to the environment,” says project founder, Adam Hutchinson.
Hutchinson started working on the CamperMate concept in 2006 while spending a summer travelling from one end of the country to the other. Seeing the negative impact that freedom camping could have, he decided to start recording the GPS coordinates of places of interest as well as public facilities that freedom campers could make use of.
“With public toilets alone, we believe we have around 95% of the positions in New Zealand mapped. However, toilets get built and removed so it’s important to keep track of these. With the new feature, tourists and campers can more easily do this, helping the next person who travels that road,” Hutchinson says.
Developed primarily so that tourists could be responsible during the Rugby World Cup the app continued to be popular, gaining an additional 8,000 downloads since the event. This prompted the CamperMate team to work on improvements to it, adding the ‘new location’ function, offline capabilities and improving the user experience for owners of smartphones and tablets. The app is currently featured by Apple as ‘What’s Hot’ on the App store.Hutchinson is excited about the concept of ‘giving back’ to the country.
“Helping to clean up the image of freedom camping will no doubt be seen as a huge positive by the Government of New Zealand, and New Zealand Tourism, and should help in promoting the country to overseas visitors,” he said.