NZ Open GPS Project

Community developed auto-routing maps of New Zealand

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Project History

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I purchased a Garmin Legend 'greyscale' GPS. I'd been inspired by a couple of business trips where I'd wandered far from the hotel (or once far from the site I was supposed to be visiting!) and ended up lost in strange places. I knew that with a GPS I could at least 'mark' where my hotel was and work out how to get back to it. My first post on the NZ GPS forums
And I even did a little experimenting with maps before I got the unit!

The GPS unit I purchased was a parallel import and had the USA basemaps. I also purchased an early set of maps from Brent, the well known GPS map producer. The street maps were great! The maps also had a nice coastline / ocean done with polygons... However the GPS reverted to the basemap when zoomed out to more than a few km - NZ looked horrible when zoomed out...


My first inspiration for creating GPS maps was sparked. I wanted the coastline to appear on the map at high zoom levels and NZ to look 'proper'!

I sourced some coastline shape files from Ollivier & Co.'s website that they offered for free, and my first map was born.
Together with Brent's maps loaded my new coastline map made NZ look pretty good from afar!


I then wanted some highways to show up at the high zoom levels, maybe some towns as well...

I started by downloading blocks of data from the LINZ website, this was over dial up. I must have spent hundreds of hours. After getting all the data from North Cape down to the upper Waikato region I gave up. I'd never be able to complete the map.

I shelved the project for a couple of weeks, and then found an announcement on Ollivier & Co's website that they would shortly be releasing NZ topo data on CD with little restriction on use and development. A short while later I parted with some money and two CDs arrived in the mailbox crammed with data :P

After a hell of a lot of work I had a mapset in 2005. I used the free version of gpsmapper, and also the mapdekode compiler as it allowed searchable POI and towns to be produced unlike cgpsmapper.

Earliest version of the website available (November 2005): ...

In March 2005 I spend a couple of weeks road testing the maps, and come to the conclusion that I needed to make them better at lower zoom levels - the streets were compiled at 21 bits and were ok until you zoomed in closer than 800m on the GPS. I redid the maps from scratch at 22 bits.

In May 2005 - Gary (who produces the excellent topo maps for Garmin) donated his completed South Island coastline made with ocean polygons. Work on the North Island was incomplete, and Gavin from the NZ GPS Society worked out a process to turn polyline coastlines into polygons, complete with islands! These were milestone events, as the maps looked better and better. I ended up using Gavin's NZ coastline as Gary's was still a work in progress. Gary later finished the complete North Island and released his topo maps. This thread on the NZ GPS forums covers the development...

Around this time I had a copy of Trip and Waypoint manager donated which allowed me to experiment integrating the maps into MapSource. After many false starts trying to develop a bomb-proof process for making the registry entries correctly on different computers with different versions of Windows and people with vastly differing PC skills, I started using a proper installer product. This lifted the maps up another level again making them more accessable and easier to install.

I continued refining the maps as much as I could, adding POI and wringing out as much re-draw speed as I could from the maps, all the while keeping them under 8mb for the whole of NZ.

Around August 2005 I purchased another GPS, a GPS Map 60 from KiwiGPS in Christchurch (another greyscale GPS) but with 24mb of memory and a USB port for faster map uploading. So much easier to develop maps!

I also changed jobs in August 2005 - leaving a company I'd been with for 13 years for a much larger company. I'd found developing the maps were a great distraction while I was in the old job, I could come home after work and sink time into the maps and not think about the bad stuff that was at work. My new job took away all the worries and sleepless nights. In a way this slowed down development as I didn't need to have an after hours distraction to take my mind off work any longer.

In order to make use of the additional memory in the Map60, I worked at releasing an 'Extended' mapset offering some additional map detail like forrests and swamps. I also redid the lakes and rivers at 22 bits, at last the braided rivers in the South Island looked good!

The maps continued with a few minor revisions through the year. I'd get at least several emails a month asking if the maps did autorouting... no, they never will, too much work, I can't afford the routing complier, I can't sink the time into fixing the intersections [I'd read of the MalSing group's work in fixing the intersections to get their maps routing... not a quick job at all!)

In August I have more issues with keeping the maps hosted for download. Thanks to a tip from Ben (longtime map user) I was able to get a good hosting package with a domain and a useful amount of bandwidth. is born

Also in August / September Roy (RC on these forums) made contact around the same time as Jimmy and Anthony from the MalSing group asked if I'd like some help in getting the maps autorouting. I sent a sample of the map data through to Jimmy and Anthony to check out if the intersections were formed ok for autorouting.

It's fair to say it took some time (weeks!) and alot of encouragement from Jimmy, Anthony and Roy to get my enthusiasm up to the same level as theirs!

MalSing forum thread

I start building a new map from scratch... this takes me nearly 180 hours between 12 October and 1 December. I suffer a hard drive crash, no data lost but spent heaps of time getting everything working again.

I was able to add some forums to the website and start collecting bug reports from keen users & testers, including tracklogs and some great drawings of the one-way street systems for me to digest and put into the maps.

Another piece of the jigsaw puzzle clicked into place with Sam's project - POIs galore!

I buy another GPS from KiwiGPS in Christchurch - this time a 60Cx and 512mb of transflash memory :roll: Nordy had showed me her new 60Cx a few weeks prior... multi satellite locks from inside the house... I was sold!

The first maps were compiled on MapCenter2 with lots of help from Jimmy and Anthony pointing me in the right direction to get the first map searchable

Later I added more cities and experimented with different settings. was the first map with polygons and compiled from shape files as opposed to .mp files.


In mid-November 2006, the first alpha release of a national mapset compiles. Included is 8,000 + Zenbu sourced POI that RC and Cloggy have been working on. I port over the existing POI from the Legacy maps of Town names (4,300 POI), and other features (15,000 POI).

From 3 December, the maps will be split among keen mappers to develop :D already dozens of edits and updates have been done


The project continues and grows...

The forums are well-bedded in, and there are 1,000 + bug fix reports and notes in the regional bug reporting threads.

Up to 14 regional mappers working on the maps

The maps have had some rich content added in the form of large building and park polygons in many areas.

Nearly 1 year on from the start of the autorouting project there have been 18,900 downloads from the MapCentre website. Wow!

September - the project gets nominated in the NZ Open Source Awards :)

The maps change workflow from shape file compile to direct .mp compile, benefits are turn restrictions work at last (yay!). Ferg and Vrod_Rider develop, test and migrate the maps to the new process.