Tag Archives: map

Bushwalking Navigation | How to make a customised, calibrated map from an .ecw map file.

Do you have a Mac computer? Want to know how to use a ecw map file to produce a customised, calibrated, topographic map? Don’t know which software to use? Don’t want to use a Windows emulator? Not sure which map datum to use?

UPDATE (Tuesday 3 July): advice on calibrating TOPOMaps version 2 ecw files  modified

The following discussion relates exclusively to two highly regarded Mac applications that I, and millions of other Mac users, have been using for what seems like a lifetime. Both are fully supported with user forums, have a prompt response to enquiries, are low cost for what you are getting, and are actively being updated by developers who have a love for Macs. These applications are

It is of course possible to use OziExplorer on a Windows computer or emulate a Windows machine on your Mac, but these are a poor substitute for powerful, user friendly software, running natively on a Mac.

I assume that you are using the latest version of Graphic Converter (GC) (there is a trial period so you can fully test it before purchasing) and have it running in 32 bit mode. You can do this by control clicking on the GC file icon, selecting the Get Info box and then checking the  “Open in 32 bit mode” check box if this choice is available [ see diagram] NB  ecw files won’t open in 64 bit mode and you will get an error message if you try to do so.

MacGPS Pro doesn’t have a demo version, but it does have a 30 day money-back guarantee.

iOS Applications

MacGPS Pro also has an iPhone/iPad/iTouch version iHikeGPS which is  suitable for New Zealanders and North Americans, due to the availability of free maps. Australians miss out as our maps have to be purchased.

Bit Map (Australian design) allows uploading and viewing of custom maps made using the technique outlined below, using an iPad or iPhone, which is something that few other apps can do. While its plotting features are not as complete as MacGPS Pro, it does allow the plotting of waypoints and routes,  or uploading from an OS X mapping application such as MacGPS Pro via iTunes. Like MacGPS Pro it allows live viewing of your current position using the built in GPS.

Disclaimer: I have no relationship with the  developers of the software discussed above.

For my review of Bit Map click this link.

Steps

IMPORTANT: If you have a small (a few map tiles only) .ecw file and the accompanying .map geo-referencing file is in the same  folder, then MacGPS Pro will open and calibrate the ecw file, as soon as your drop it on the MacGPS icon, without any further action on your part. If you don’t have the corresponding .map file then you will need to calibrate the newly imported ecw file as in Step 7.

    1.    Drag  the  ecw file from your CD to the GC icon, and dialogue box below will pop up. Select a slightly bigger area than you want by dragging the square corners of the large box [see diagram below] and then position the box by dragging from the middle of the box. Select Downsample.”None”, then click OK. HINT: It doesn’t need to be accurate at this stage. Just make sure the area of interest is inside the selected area.

  2.    Select the part of the image you want by using the selection tool (the dashed square, second line on the right) [see diagram] from the toolbox (bring to forefront by clicking command-K)  and save as (file/save as) a pict file, which is the native MacGPS Pro format. Make sure you have checked the radio button Save Selection Only.[see diagram below]  [Steps: name file, select file format ie PICT, check save selection only]

 3.    Open Mac GPS Pro, set the units (file/unit choices) to the appropriate datum,
which should correspond to the map datum of the paper maps you have or will be purchasing.

If you intend printing labelled maps directly from MacGPSPro as pdfs, then I would suggest you set to GDA94, as this is most likely to be compatible with the maps of others in your group.

 eg GDA94, UTM, kilometres, metres magnetic, click OK. [see diagram below]

    4.    Drag the cropped pict  file from your Finder onto the MacGPS Pro icon.
    5.    A dialogue box will open and ask you to “Set the map’s Datum  and Projection type”  [see diagram below] Select GDA94 for most discs recent mapping discs and Transverse Mercator. Click OK

    6.    It will then pop up a “Standard Coordinates for the Map” dialogue box. Enter the grid zone (see image)

and check the ‘Store calibration in PICT file” box, then OK [see diagram below]

    7.    You will then have a “Click known Points to Calibrate Map ” dialogue box pop up. Check the map datum is set to the same as your hard copy maps before proceeding. [see diagram below]

Complete this for any four easily recognized features (eg trig point, windmill)  located near the four corners of the map, using a hard copy of the map to provide the 7 digit eastings [eg 0262600] and northings [eg 6553800]. Click DONE.

HINT: Make sure you have zoomed in as far as you can, without the map becoming too pixelated, using the zoom icon top right, to increase your accuracy.
 
VERY IMPORTANT: If you are using an ecw file from a TOPOMaps version 2 disc (South Australian), then be aware that the grid lines on the ecw file are those of the AGD84 datum, as the file has been scanned from pre-94 maps. If however, you open these maps in OziExplorer you will find that the associated .map file (found on the disc) has calibrated the maps as GDA94 hence the disc markings.

The Instructions file on the disc ( who reads the instructions?!) say

The map image displayed (in OziExplorer) has been recalibrated to the Geocentric Datum of Australia 1994 (GDA94). The Easting and Northing readouts for any point at the cursor position will in GDA (94) coordinates.

Please Note:
The map images were scanned from AMG 84 based maps. Therefore, if the cursor is placed at the intersection of two grid lines, the coordinate readout will not correspond to the values of those grid lines. Future map editions will display a grid pattern based on the GDA94 datum and therefore the readout will then correspond to the grid values. See also p25

The warning above is very important, if you normally use grid line intersections as your calibration points, as this will result in inaccurate calibration, with the whole map displaced 100-200m. If you use recognized topographic features this problem doesn’t exist.

HINT: To speed up the process in case you need to start over again, keep a record by printing a copy of the map and annotating it with the four corner grid references which you previously entered. If MacGPS Pro won’t let you click the DONE button it is probably because you made a mistake entering the GR and will need to start again, or perhaps you have failed to select a point on the map, to register the grid reference.

The Ultimate Goal

Remember that the goal of calibrating a map, plotting waypoints and joining them to form a route using MacGPS Pro is so that you can transfer them to your GPS and use your GPS to find your location relative to these waypoints, on either a purchased map or one printed using the software. For this reason, the map datum set in your GPS MUST match the paper map you are carrying.

My next few posts will explain how to export your data from MacGPS Pro to your GPS, overlay the calibrated map you have produced on Google Earth to help you visualize the terrain and get the UTM coordinates from Google Earth by overlaying with UTM grid.

Visit some of my other related navigation posts

  Creative Commons LicenseThis article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Bushwalking Navigation | Documenting Your Route Plan

How do you document a route plan? How can you use Google Earth to check the route and save pics of critical navigational decision points? How do you use mapping software to plot and export the waypoints to your GPS, print the route and elevation graph? How can you annotate your map pdfs? How do you protect your maps from the weather?

This post is part 2 of  Bushwalking Navigation | A Route Plan Workflow

Getting the “big picture”

The first step in planning any trip is to read guide books, talk to other bushwalkers and search  bushwalking forums, websites and blogs to discover which routes are popular. 

Once you have decided on your intended route you will need to check water availability, weather conditions, locate existing tracks, property boundaries and permitted camping spots.  Don’t forget to check photographic websites such as Flickr, which give a good idea of popular sites and the scenery to be expected.

Next study the terrain to work out your likely speed, keeping in mind height gains and losses, the density of vegetation, the amount and difficulty of any off-track walking, and the presence of waterfalls in creek lines, which may need to be bypassed.  Once you know these you will be able decide how far apart your camping spots can be and determine each day’s starting and finishing times.

I have discussed many of these navigation techniques and route plan design in previous posts (21) and won’t go further into detail now.

Finding a Map

You should never rely solely upon a GPS for critical navigational decisions and for this reason bushwalkers should always carry topographic maps covering the route, and the surrounding countryside just in case you get off track. These can be purchased from a local map or outdoors shop, and are usually available at 1:50,000 scale but sometimes at 1:25,000, which provide more detail, for popular areas.

If you are walking the Heysen Trail in South Australia, there are two excellent guide books (Northern and Southern), with log books readily available available which include maps that are adequate for most walkers. The CFS also publishes (Mapland) excellent map books, and these too are available from map and outdoor shops. Many downloadable walking brochures for our parks are available from the Department of Environment’s Parks SA website.

With digital maps readily available, many people are using mapping software to select just the relevant parts of maps and to enlarge these beyond the 1:50K scale than is usually available in printed maps, making it easier to see the contour and creek lines. If you are lucky enough to live in NZ, you can download 1:50,000 maps free of charge and even Australia has 1:250,000 maps for free download from Geoscience which are useful for getting the big picture and planning access roads.

Using Mapping Software

My apologies to Windows users for the following Mac centric discussion. 

As a MacBook Pro user I have used MacGPS Pro mapping software for many years to import my scanned maps, plot my routes and export the waypoints to my GPS. A print out of the waypoints file is an essential record of each waypoint’s  name, grid reference, comments, and elevation

One big advantage of mapping software is that it is possible to enlarge the map on screen to locate the exact position of known waypoints  or to determine the grid reference to 7 figure accuracy of any point you can see. Once you have decided on your waypoints you can rapidly link these to form a route, calculating distances and bearings automatically by dragging from point to point, and plotting a route elevation graph by selecting the route single click. The elevation graph is useful for estimating time to be taken.

From MacGPS Pro

The disadvantage of using a Macintosh is that without a Windows emulator, such as Bootcamp, and an installed version of Windows, OziExplorer software doesn’t work.

For older Macs (not using intel cpu) use Virtual PC or for new OS X Macs with the Intel CPU use either Bootcamp or emulation software called VirtualBox or ParallelsVirtualBox (Sun Microsystems Inc.) is free for personal use. It works in OS X on Intel Macs. (OziExplorer – Running OziExplorer on a MAC or Linux Computer )

There is a way to overcome this and that is to import the maps from the disc in .ecw format into a graphics program such as Graphic Converter, select the relevant part and then save as a PICT or TIFF file.  Some of the .ecw image files are small enough to import directly into a mapping program such as MacGPS Pro.

Often the .ecw image file will be accompanied by a matching .map calibration file and providing you keep it in the same folder as the ecw file, you can then import into MacGPS Pro and automatically calibrate the map. You could of course still do it the old way which was to scan and process a hard copy of the map.

Assuming there is no matching .map file available, calibrating a digital map using MacGPS Pro requires that you first rotate the map (using GraphicConverter) so the northing gridlines are horizontal and then enter the full 7 figure grid references of four widely spread points, usually near the corners of your map.

Top Left:  Easting 0263000 Northing 6540000, Grid Zone 54J, AGD94

From MacGPS Pro

You must also enter the UTM grid zone and know the projection and map datum eg I am using a portion of the Oraparinna map for a forthcoming trip

From MacGPS Pro

NB UTM Grid Zones is SA are either 52 (far west), 53 (west) or 54 (central and east)

Annotating your pdfs

Annotated portion of Oraparinna map

There are several programs (I use Skim) that allow you to annotate a pdf. This is particularly useful as it allows you to add grid references to the margins of your map (NB MacGPS Pro has a menu item “View/Gridlines” which does this automatically for you) and add notes about the route. Most programs allow you to add arrows showing routes and highlights. Once you have done this, you can export as a pdf and if you have the full version of Acrobat take advantage of its ability to reduce the file size significantly, to as much as a tenth.

Using Google Earth to Plan a Route

Google Earth can be used to visualize the route, finding 4WD tracks, checking whether creek lines are heavily vegetated and to see if ridges would be easier going. Cattle, goat and sheep tracks converging on a creek line probably indicates a waterhole, spring or a shallow crossing. Rainwater tanks, galvanised iron shelters, windmills and bores can sometimes be seen in Google Earth, even if they are not marked on the map.

Flinders Ranges: Google Earth screen capture

Simply import your .kml file showing your waypoints and then zoom in and tilt to see your route in 3D. Use a screen capture program, such as  Snapz Pro X, to capture pics of significant parts of the route, with your waypoints shown. Save these to your iPhone, camera or print, for later reference while on the walk.

NB I can never get my GPS waypoints to exactly match those in Google Earth, as I assume it uses a different map datum

Protecting your maps

One of the advantages of printing your maps from pdfs is that you can print them in A4 format which means they can either be laminated back-to-back or placed in a map case without the need for folding.

Other relevant posts

The Bushwalking Navigation series

Other Resources

Geoscience
Department of Environment’s Parks SA website
Bushwalk Australia Forum
Friends of the Heysen Trail

  Creative Commons LicenseThis article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

iPhone Apps for Bushwalkers Revisited

It’s over a year since I began reviewing iPhone apps for bushwalkers. During this time I have tried hundreds and found that I only use a few regularly.

While there are hundreds of iPhone apps useful to bushwalkers and growing every day, what you personally find useful is determined by your past experience, the type of walking you do, your interests,  and your willingness to be dependent on high tech devices.

After trying most, I regulary use only a few of these. On bushwalks, my choice will vary as it is dependent upon on the duration of my walk, and hence how important it is to save battery power,  and upon how much non-walking time I will have available.

My iPhone Apps

Navigation: Bit Map, Declination, Maps, Google Earth, Compass
Field Guides: Good Reader, BooksApp, Kindle, Aus. Birds (Morecomb), Field Guide Fauna Museum Victoria, Bird in Hand, WhatBirdNZ, Wikipanion, MyEnviro, FrogLog
Bushcraft / Survival : KnotsGuide, SASSurvival, Knots, GoneTrekking
Camp Food: Jamie Oliver’s Recipes, Poh’s Kitchen, Nigella Quick (….LOL)
Fitness: Walkmeter, Beat Monitor, Cadence, iHandy Level
Weather: Pkt Weather, Rainspotting, Clouds, iBarometer, ShralpTide, Clouds,WeatherNZ
Travel: Frequent Flyer, Webjet, Plane Finder, Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor
Astronomy: Star walk, Star Guide
NZ: WeatherNZ, WhatBirdNZ, SnowReports
Photography: Flickr
Medical: Elastoplast, MediProfiles, St John NZ

Disclaimer: Navigation using your iPhone always needs to be backed up with a compass, map and a dedicated GPS. 

I have written reviews of many of these iPhone apps previously in this blog, several articles about how to use iPhone apps in general while bushwalking, and detailed articles which focus upon iPhone apps for navigation, fitness and NZ.

Read more…..

  Creative Commons LicenseThis article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Bushwalking Navigation | How to Avoid Getting Lost or Losing Someone in Your Group

Have you ever been on a bushwalk and lost track of where you were? Ever turned the corner and found the rest of your group was no longer walking ahead? Ever stopped to take a photo and been unable to catch up with your group?

Getting lost on a walk can easily be avoided by some pre-planning, good leadership and each walker taking responsibility for knowing where they are at all times.

The Pre-planning

All walkers should have a map of the walk.

This could be a full topographic map or the relevant part of the map (A4), printed from a digital source or scanned from the original, and then laminated or inserted into a plastic pocket, which has been sealed. Before distributing a small part of the map make sure that the Eastings and Northings are clearly marked on the map, so a grid reference can be given and found. If the route has already been planned, show the route with dots or crosses and significant waypoints, which should be named.

If you have some individuals who have a GPs, issue them with the waypoints and route so they can upload it before leaving home. If you issue the route as a .kml file then individuals can familiarise themselves with the route, by importing the waypoints into Google Earth. Issue a route plan which gives information about the legs of the walk, especially for those without a GPS.

At the Start of the Walk.

A good leader will always brief the group:

  • have everyone locate the starting point on their map
  • have everyone locate the finishing point on their map
  • give an ETA at the campsite and distance
  • outline the route, describe the terrain, point out significant obstacles
  • locate a lunch spot and approximate time

 Before starting appoint a “tail-end charlie” or “whip” to always be at the back and assist in keeping the group together. This person needs to have enough experience and confidence to know when to ask the leader for a break to rest tired individuals or to bring the group back together.

Decide who will lead the way and brief them on how you want the group kept together: visual sight to the rear or maximum spread of 50m and/or pause at every junction. The trail-blazer needs to be a competent and strong bushwalker as they will often need to find the best route and break through bush.

Check that everyone has the emergency equipment needed for an overnight stop caused by bad weather or an injury, appropriate clothing  and sufficient water before departure.

During the Walk

During the walk everyone should orientate and thumb the map so that they can follow their route as they walk. The leader/navigator should bring major features on the ground to everyone’s attention, so they can relocate themselves on the map. At each rest break make sure everyone knows where they are on the map.

Individuals should try to match map-to-ground as they walk, anticipate approaching features such as creek bends, junctions and road intersections. Form a 3D image of the country you are walking through and make sure that what you can see fits with what you were expecting. Is the creek you are walking in following the direction the map shows? Is the creek running up hill or downhill? Does this match what the map shows?

Keep you map orientated towards the north using your compass or the sun.

What if you lose the rest of the group?

  • don’t panic
  • keep those “lost” together
  • try to work out where you are
  • head for a high point with your map, compass and phone and try to recognise features. Climb a tree if necessary.
  • If you can’t  see higher ground, head on a compass bearing which you think will most likely lead to higher ground.
  • don’t walk more than 1 km and continually check your bearings, so you don’t walk around in circles
  • return to a recognisable feature  by retracing your steps, taking a bearing before you start off
  • set up camp, build a shelter and conserve energy
  • if 3-4 hours have passed,  consider contacting emergency services or use you PLB.
  • blow your whistle: 3 blasts separated by a short gap. Signal with a torch
  • light a small fire: smokey in the day, bright at night

What if you as leader lose part of your group?

  • do a quick recce (min gp of 4) in areas of high probability such as where they were last seen and return to this point
  • leave a small group here for an extended stay. They should light a visible fire.
  • carry out a search using the remaining members of the group
  • signal for the lost group with a single blast of a whistle, repeated
  • if 3-4 hours have passed,  consider the group totally lost and contact emergency services by sending two well equipped people with full details (equipment carried, health, contact details of NOK, bushwalking skills) of the lost group members or use you PLB
  • searchers give 1 blast, and those lost 3 blasts on their whistles

Relevant Articles

Bushwalking Navigation
Bushwalking Navigation | A Route Plan Workflow
Bushwalking Rescue: Emergency Beacons and Personal Tracking Systems
A Guide to Better Bushwalking
Map Reading Guide (GeoScience)

  Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Bushwalking Navigation | Using Creek Lines in Arid Environments

Ever wondered why it is so easy to get lost following a creek in an arid environment? What precautions can you take? Why is it more difficult to navigate uphill than downhill?

I have just come back from 4 days in the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges, over 700 km north of Adelaide where rainfall averages less than 20 mm per month with most of it falling during summer as the tail end of monsoons in the north west of Australia sweep down into northern South Australia and temperatures rise into the mid to high 30s. This has been one of the best start to the bushwalking season for many years and there are large numbers of full waterholes in the creek beds, lots of weed infestations and even a mouse plague.

Walking is usually via dry rocky creeks beds, as the ridges are often steep, rugged and exposed. Sometimes the creeks are full of native vegetation such as paperbarks (Melaleuca) and flood debris which makes movement with a full pack difficult.

Invariably navigation is a challenge, as few, if any, of the creeks have flowing water to help decide which way is downstream and it is difficult to distinguish major tributaries from mere gully’s. Often creek beds are hundreds of metres wide and may have islands in the middle, which can give the impression of a creek intersection, leading to miscounting.

Creek navigation involves

  • starting from a known location (use your GPS)
  • deciding how far away the next creek intersection will be and whether it will be on the left or right
  • calculating your walking speed and using elapsed time as a guide to when the next intersection should occur
  • counting creek intersections as you go
  • checking map to ground as you walk for obvious features such a gorges, cliffs, bends in the creek and stopping if they don’t appear in the correct sequence and place
  • using your compass to check the direction of each creek at each intersection with that expected from the map
  • checking for debris against tree trunks and trickling creeks to decide which way the creek is flowing
  • checking your location frequently with your GPS, even if you think you know where you are, as often parallel creek beds, can appear to be very similar. 
  • deciding on a catching feature so you don’t go too far or a handrail you can follow (see below for glossary)

If you have a GPS, then set up a route linking waypoints you have pre-determined at each creek intersection (decision point). This will give you distance to the next intersection, time to next intersection and bearing, but has severe limitations if the creek bed is very windy as all directions are “as the crow flies”. The GPS should never be relied upon without confirmation from map to ground, especially in narrow gorges where reception can be poor.

Uphill navigation following creek lines is always more difficult than downhill, as there always at least two uphill choices at each intersection but coming downhill, it is unlikely that you would decide to go back uphill at the intersection, knowing that the main creek must be going downhill.

Other Similar Posts

Bushwalking Navigation | A Glossary of Frequently Used Terms 
Bushwalking Navigation

  Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Bushwalking Navigation | GPS vs Paper Map vs iPhone

Which is better for navigation, your GPS or a paper map? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Do you need to carry both? Are there any alternatives to a dedicated GPS and map?

In bushwalking circles there are always vigorous debates about which is best, a dedicated GPS or a topo map?  This is sometimes generational with older members preferring the map, with which they are familiar, and younger bushwalkers preferring the GPS. To some degree the dictum “each to their own” applies in bushwalking as a walker who doesn’t understand how their GPS works is a danger to themselves and others in their group and would be much safer navigating with a map .

Of course the argument is not that simple, as many modern GPSs now contains maps which can be viewed and overlain with waypoints and your current position. You can now take your digital maps with you when you walk. Fortunately the opposing viewpoints are not exclusive as it is possible and in my view essential to take both, especially when bushwalking in difficult terrain.

I love to walk “thumbing ” my laminated map which allows me to get the “big picture” around me, orientate myself using distant features and anticipate what’s around the next corner. I do however use my GPS to check my location at each stop or at critical “decision points” such as creek junctions, waterholes or ridge descents.

Paper maps have some disadvantages:

  • they get damaged easily, especially at the folds, and require laminating
  • they are cumbersome in a strong wind if you have to open them
  • multiple maps are often needed and changing from one to another in your map case is often difficult
  • they require special storage facilities at home
  • the printing is often too small to see without  reading glasses.

HINT: try laminating your maps in A4 sections, with maps both front and back, which will fit individually into your map case.

Paper maps do however still have many advantages:

  • they allow you to orientate yourself using distant features
  • they can’t go flat as they don’t rely upon batteries
  • they may be more waterproof than your GPS, especially if you are using a “smartphone”
  • they are cheaper in the short term 
  • they work even under a dense forest canopy trees or in narrow gorges.

A GPS has several advantages over paper maps:

  • it can compactly store large amounts of data, plotted on a large desktop computer screen, and then uploaded via a cable, infrared, bluetooth or wireless.
  • if the GPS has a large colour screen and sufficient memory then you can store a large number of maps, which can be scrolled and zoomed. You need never go off the map as they will be seamlessly “stitched together”.
  • it allows you to determine your location quickly with high accuracy and reliability, subject to several limitations: not under a dense forest canopy trees or in narrow gorges.
  • if you have a large touch screen (eg iPhone) then you will be able to effortlessly scroll and zoom, so that your reading glasses are never needed.

Of course there are many features they share, such as the ability to determine location. Experienced map users will be able to lay a compass on their map and do a resection using prominent features to find their current location. Even better they will have “thumbed” the marked route on their map from the beginning and never become lost!

Alternatives to a dedicated GPS

There are alternatives to a dedicated GPS such as a  smartphone, many of which have large colour touch screens and excellent built-in GPS’s. The iPhone is a good example of such a phone, and as most bushwalkers should be carrying a mobile phone with them anyway, this can serve as a good back up for those who prefer to use maps but don’t want the expense of purchasing a dedicated GPS. There are several excellent mapping apps (applications) which are very easy to use on the iPhone and while they don’t match a dedicated GPS for versatility, they only cost a few dollars.

The iPhone does however have two major limitations: battery life and lack of waterprooofness, but both of these can be overcome with solar panels and waterproof covers.

Read more about the uses of the iPhone for bushwalkers

Related Posts

Can my GPS replace My Map?
Why am I Lost When I Have a GPS?
How to Keep your iPhone Charged in the Outdoors 
Bushwalking Navigation
GPS
Smartphones

  Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Bushwalking Navigation | Using the Free Geoscience Australia Maps

What does the Geoscience Australia website offer to bushwalkers? Want some free topographic maps covering the whole of Australia for planning purposes?  Want to view these maps using your desktop mapping software? Want to load them into your iPhone?

MapConnect

“Delivering online mapping tools and information, this interactive service allows you to download Australian maps and data for FREE. MapConnect is useful to professionals or students working with spatial data. The general public is welcome to use this resource, but should note that some aspects of MapConnect are specialised. You can view selected data on a map then download it in various formats.

MapConnect is a FREE service, data can be downloaded using the interactive map selection process.

MapConnect can provide mapping data in four ways:

  •     250K – 1:250 000 scale topographic map data in .ecw format
  •     GlobalMap – 1:1 million scale topographic map data
  •     Geology – 1:1 million and 1:2.5 million scale geological map data
  •     geoMAP – Create a quality PDF map in either of 2 formats ( satellite or topo)
Gammon Ranges, SA, 250K Landsat (MapConnect Geoscience Australia)
Gammon  Ranges SA  Standard  (MapConnect Geoscience Australia)

 Loading MapConnect Maps into your desktop software.


The maps, in two formats .ecw amd .kml are downloaded in a zip file. ecw files are geo-referenced and can be loaded directly into mapping software such as MacGPS Pro (for Mac enthusiasts) and a variety of software for PC users. This will allow you to plot waypoints, routes and then upload the points/ routes directly to your GPS.

Suitability of 250K Maps for Bushwalking.

250 K maps really only allow you to get the big picture, select likely bushwalking areas, plan your approach and navigate by road. On-the-ground requires 25K or 50K topographic maps which will need to be bought as hard copies or in digital form on disc. Check the above 250K maps as examples of the resolution you can obtain.

Geoscience Australia Maps for your iPhone

This will require converting the highly compressed  .ecw format maps ( typically 5 Mb) to .png (typically 31Mb) or .jpg (4Mb at 50%). For better quality, save as .png, which is a lossless format like tiff. To do this read my review of  BitMap

Further Reading

    Related Bushwalking Navigation Posts
    Related iPhone Posts for Bushwalkers
    Related Bushwalk Planning Posts

      Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

    iPhone Apps for Bushwalkers Visiting New Zealand (NZ)

    Want to check the weather in NZ? Listen to streamed radio? Find Public transport in Auckland or Wellington? Book an Air New Zealand Flight? Calculate distances and times between towns? Find wifi access or budget accommodation? NZ Snow report? Navigate roads? Identify birds and their calls? View topographic maps?

     There are certainly a large number of iPhone apps available to bushwalkers/trampers and I have reviewed many of these in a series of previous posts, some in detail and others briefly.

    This post looks at 15 or so iPhone apps from the perspective of someone who is planning to tramp in NZ or has arrived in New Zealand and wants to add some local flavour.  To make it easier, I’ve grouped these and provided a brief synopsis, taken directly from iTunes. Where I have actually used the app I have provided a more detailed review

    Weather

    • Weather NZ

      Get the latest weather forecasts from New Zealand’s own MetService forecasters. Up to date, marine and general forecasts for all New Zealand Urban areas. WeatherNZ also lets you chart tidal data for all Primary and Secondary ports around NZ, plus lets you see latest Situation isobar image as they get released. Snow and Surf reports are updated directly from snow.co.nz.

    • New Zealand Snow Report

      Get your New Zealand snow reports on the go, for free, with SnowReports.co.nz and your iPod Touch or iPhone. Whether you are on the road or still lying in bed you can instantly check the weather, road and lift conditions at your favourite NZ ski areas. Or, if you are trying to decide which ski area to go to, simply browse conditions at ALL of them! The free SnowReports summaries include: Mountain name, Weather status, Road conditions, Number of lifts open, Snow base depth, New snow depth, Temperature, Wind, Time last updated

    Transport

    • Timetable NZ

      If you’re a user of public transport in Auckland or Wellington then this App is for you. Find bus, train, ferry and even cable car schedules for public transport in greater Wellington and the City of Sails. Store frequently used routes in a favorites list and view the next three departures on those routes in a convenient initial page. View the location of your departure station within Google Maps in relation to where you are now to help you find where you should be going. Best of all, these schedules are all stored on your iPhone or iPod meaning that you don’t need to have a network connection to use the App.

    • Air New Zealand-mPass

      With mPass on your iPhone or iPod Touch you can: View up to date details of all your flight bookings. Go straight to the gate when travelling within New Zealand without bags. mPass acts as an electronic boarding pass. The mPass boarding pass is also recognised by Air New Zealand airport kiosks. Just scan your mPass boarding pass to collect baggage tags when travelling domestically with bags. If you’re a Koru member, scan your mPass boarding pass for entry to the Koru Lounge.

    Tourism

    • Find NZ

      Find! NZ is a New Zealand local search engine based on location awareness. The app uses an open source database from Zenbu. (www.zenbu.co.nz) Features: Online & Offline search. Search the nearest points of interest by predefined 43 categories. Custom search by any keywords from your keyboard entry.  Phone call, Open website, Send email, Send SMS and Map. (phone call available on iPhone only) Add, Edit Entries – You can add/edit entries in App. (Online only) Option to choose location control : GPS or Manual setting. Option to choose the max number of search results to display. (200 max) Special offers provided by Arrival NZ Magazine. (Discount coupons/Free stuffs)

    • NewZealand.spot-on

      Browse activities and destinations by region and then save them for quick access upon arrival. Save and share your adventures back home by creating custom Postcards with your photos and then posting them to social networks.
      Highlights: Works offline so that you can plan your trip during your Air New Zealand flight 1500+ pre-loaded activities and destinations organized by geography/region. Postcard builder with dozens of frames, stamps, and captions to make fun vacation snaps for friends and fans across Facebook and Twitter. Travel Notes area for backing up important names, numbers and trip detail.  Recommendations from local bloggers and recent travelers. Automatic content updates of additional activities and events
      Helpful tools include: WiFi Finder – lists cafés, libraries, and other known establishments with wireless access. Distance Calculator – estimated driving/flying times between towns. BBH Hostel Network – full list of budget accommodations and amenities across the North and South Islands. iSite Kiosk Directory – New Zealand’s official travel information resources. Kiwi Translations – learn the lingo so you can order your coffee just right.  Map of New Zealand – pinch, zoom, plot, escape.  Book a flight – direct access to Air New Zealand flight bookings and deals
    • Zenbu

      Find Everything from Zenbu instantly on your iPhone, no network connection required. http://www.zenbu.co.nz is a local search engine for New Zealand (and only NZ) places, products & services with over 80,000 listings including restaurants, cafes, accommodation, hairdressers, service stations, banks, ATMs and more. With this app you have the name, address, phone, website, activity description and opening hours all at your fingertips. Zenbu is the perfect reference tool for locals and tourists.

    • Lonely Planet Auckland

      # easy to use – swipe to scroll through a full table of contents, dip into sections, and turn pages with a flick of your finger # offline maps – there’s no need to go online to access our detailed street maps, fully retooled for the iPhone with location awareness, multi-touch controls, full-colour styling and six-level zoom # tons to see and do – choose how to search through hundreds of geo-coded points-of-interest (POIs) – by proximity, category, preferences or favourites – then just tap to visit the website, or place a direct call # text search – whether you’re into ‘live music’ or ‘fine dining’, every article and POI in your guidebook is text-searchable # location-based navigation – plot your location in real time on our interactive maps, exploring back streets and hidden treasures with no danger of losing your way # worth a thousand words … – if you need some inspiration, just thumb through images taken by our award-winning photographers # personalisation – tailor your City Guide to your tastes by tagging the best POIs as ‘favourites’ # money saving – forget roaming costs, our apps are designed for offline use, and only take up the room of an average album on your iPod

    Navigation

    • MapApp NZ

      MapApp NZ South Island displays full topographic maps of New Zealand’s South Island. Explore the South Island on your iPhone or iPad.  Find your current location on the map using the built-in GPS.Search for place names. MapApp includes all the map data with the app, so maps can be displayed even when you have no cellular coverage. The map data is derived from the latest LINZ 1:50000 scale Topo50 series.

    • Google Earth

      Navigate the world with a swipe of your finger. Swipe with two fingers to adjust your view to see mountainous terrain. Show the Panoramio layer and browse the millions of geo-located photos from around the world. View geo-located Wikipedia articles. Use the Location feature to fly to your current location. Search for cities, places, and business around the globe with Google Local Search. Nav4D New Zealand

    News

    • New Zealand Radio Streams

      Alarm Clock Sleep Timer Search by radio name,  Graphic Equalizer, Favorites list, History of last played stations ,Regular updates over the air, Customer service support, Song title and artist name (when available), iPhone 4 Retina Display icon, Recording, Facebook & Twitter support, Advanced Alarm Manager – Multiple Alarms, Day Selection, iPod music / Radio station and more, Transfer Recordings to your computer with iTunes USB File Sharing (iOS 4.x), “Wifi only” On/Off switch (setting can be found in the main setting app under Radio)

    • New Zealand Radio Stations

      The Tunin.FM New Zealand Radio Stations application allows you to listen to New Zealands radio stations whilst travelling. You no longer need to switch frequencies when travelling across different coverage areas. You can now even listen to internet-only radio stations or local stations whilst travelling and anywhere you like. Enjoy radio in digital quality on the train, the bus, in the car and on your bicycle. The Tunin.FM-application does not require a Wi-Fi connection. With this app, even mobile internet connections which are sometimes slow (i.e. 2.5G/GPRS) allow you to listen to good quality radio. It is easy to save your favourite radio stations on the list of favourites and an automatic record is kept of the radio stations you listened to most recently the next time you start the app again.

    First Aid 

    • St John NZ CPR

      St John is the leading provider of first aid training in New Zealand as well providing ambulance services to 85% of the population. This application teaches the life saving skills of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, commonly known as CPR. Knowing how to save a life of a family member, friend or colleague is vital, so why not get this application now so you have it on your phone. You never know when you might need it and it is FREE.

    Field Guides

    • What Bird NZ

      WhatBirdNZ provides a concise pocket reference guide to many of the interesting birds that can be seen around New Zealand. Not only does it allow you to hear and see them but it also provides interesting trivia in a fun “Top Trumps” style card format. Also when in this view you can rotate your iPhone/iPod to see a zoomed in photo.

    Similar Posts: 

    iPhone

      Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

    Bushwalking Navigation | Using Topo50 Maps (LINZ) for Tramping in New Zealand

    Want to plan your NZ tramp using digital topographic maps? Like to view NZ Topo50 maps on your iPhone or Mac? What sorts of maps are best for tramping?  How do you select the appropriate map? How can you load and calibrate these maps on an iPhone or Mac computer? What are some of the technical problems?

    New Zealanders are certainly lucky to have high quality recent produced raster digital topographic maps (300dpi) available for download for FREE , and despite some controversy, the change to NZGD2000, which is equivalent to the universally used WGS84 for bushwalking purposes, has brought some bonuses for those of us who like to use NZ maps on our iPads and iPhones. There is no doubt that for tramping a 1:50K topographic map is needed and  for steep terrain a 1:25K map is even better.

    Navigation Apps

    Many newer mapping programs that may not have been able to use the old NZGD1949 datum, but do have the newer WGS84 datum installed, are now able to be used by bushwalkers/trampers in NZ. Two of my favourite navigation apps,  Bit Map for the iPhone and MacGPS Pro for the Mac computer can now view and use the latest NZ Topo50 (1:50K) and Topo250 (1:250K) maps. No doubt any GPS that is able to load non-proprietary maps will be able to used these maps too.

    Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)

    The new Topo50 and Topo250 map series are available for download from the Land Information New Zealand website in two formats

    • geoTIFF (141 Mb for a typical map) (no map legend or margin, but includes embedded calibration data to allow automatic georeferencing and alignment of adjacent maps)
    • TIFF (214Mb) (includes the legend and margins, identical to the paper version)

    Map Selection

    The first step is to decide which map you wish to download and this can be done by going to the LINZ Map Index page and selecting the appropriate 1:250,000 map. Once you have selected the correct large scale map, clicking the large grid square, will reveal twenty five, 20 km x 20km 1:50,000 maps which can then be individually selected for download.

    Loading Topo Maps into your Map Viewing App

    Bit Map requires that you first convert the geoTIFF map image file ( no margins or legend) into a form that it can read and labels .bitmap. This can be done within your iPhone or  using a desktop application, such as those available free of charge on the developers website, which optimises the files for use prior to loading into your iPhone. The optimisation process splits the large geoTIFF image file into a large number of smaller tiled JPEG image files which have been produced at a much lower resolution to reduce loading time. This optimised format is very similar to ozf2 format, which means that if you already have files of this type from a program such as OziExplorer (not version 3), they should load without the need for any optimisation.

    The next step is to calibrate the file, which requires a knowledge of the grid references of the corners of the map and the grid zone name. For the Routeburn track this is 59G. The grid references of the corners of the map (extents) can be found from the LINZ website, where it is possible to download the data as a text file, spreadsheet (preferred so you can change the order of the data) or view on the screen.

    World UTM Grid Zones by Alan Morton

    View an enlarged map

    MacGPS Pro first needs to convert the geoTIFF image file into PICT format, which while no smaller, is the format used internally by the program. Once imported the file is automatically calibrated by  the user when the correct units (datum: NXZGD2000 and grid: NZTM2000, km, m, magnetic or true) are chosen and the file saved.

    Check you have it right by finding the coordinates of a known point on the map and see whether they correspond to that on the TIFF or paper map

    View Similar Posts

    Creative Commons License
    This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

    Bushwalking Trip Plan | Routeburn Track, New Zealand | Pt 3

    Previously I looked at how to plan a walk to the  Routeburn Track in the South Island of New Zealand from Adelaide, South Australia, how to search the internet for information, whether November is suitable from a weather perspective,  reviewed commercial packages, and costed the logistics.

    The next stage in tramping the Routeburn Track will involve locating relevant maps, and preparing a detailed route plan.

    Maps

    High quality image files may be downloaded free of charge from Land Information NZ (LINZ) or paper copies purchased from map retailers. 

    • geoTIFF (138 MB) (no margins, suitable for mapping software, have calibration data embedded)
    • TIFF (79 MB) ( full paper map including legend)
    • Topo50 map legend (858KB) (Additional to the Topo50 GeoTIFF)
    • Important Topo50 information

    The relevant Topo50 (1:50K) Maps are CB09 Hollyford, CB10 Glenorchy and this whole area is covered by Topo250 Te Anau #25 (1:250K)

    The relevant ones from the old series of maps, now replaced by Topo50 were Map 260 D40 / C40 Milford, Map 260 D41 Eglinton, Map 260 E40 Earnslaw

    Routeburn Track Map download ( from Routeburn Track Independent Tramping Southland/Otago – 2010/2011 season – DOC) 

    Routeburn Track Route
     
    Most trampers seem to do the walk in 3 days, with 2 nights in one of the DOC huts, but it would be feasible to do it in one day, if you were fit, travelling light and admiring the scenery was not a high priority.

    One Way
    Time 2 – 3 days
    From Routeburn Shelter, head of Lake Wakatipu
    To The Divide, Milford Te Anau Road
    Distance 39 km
    Huts 4 Great Walks Huts, 2 Great Walks Campsites
    Grade medium
    Highest Point
    1277m, Harris Saddle
    Lowest Point 450m
    Maps Topo50 (LINZ) CB09, CB10; Topo250 25                (Source: Backcountry NZ)

    Detailed track notes are provided on the Backcountry NZ website

    Location
    Distance
    Times
    Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Flats
    8 km
    2.5 hours (2)
    Flats to Routeburn Falls
    3 km
    1.5 hrs (1)
    Routeburn Falls to Harris Saddle
    5 km
    2 hrs (1.5)
    Harris Saddle to Lake McKensie
    10 km
    3 hrs (3.5)
    Lake McKenzie to Lake Howden
    10 km
    3 hrs ( 3.5)
    Lake Howden to Divide
    (Source: Backcountry NZ)
    3 km
    1 hr ( 1.5 hr)

    Bookmarks

    I have added all my bookmarks to Delicious, the  social bookmarking site, where you can see my Routeburn tagged bookmarks and those of others. Filter the bookmarks by tag eg “tracknotes”, search by tagger’s name eg “oz.bushwalkingskills”, or select those that have been bookmarked often, which is usually an indication of their value.

    Web Research

     Read other posts in this series about the Routeburn Track

      Creative Commons License
      This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.