Having heard of a version 2.0 being released of the CamperMate app, I thought it was time to check it out and see what the free iPhone/Android app had to offer to people travelling Aotearoa. The aim of the app is to make it easier for users, particuarly travelleing tourists, to find nearby facilities using GPS to determine their position and showing nearby locations such as toilets, rubbish bins, dump stations, free wifi, etc.
The app was developed in 2011 as a free tool for the hordes of visitors arriving for the rugby world cup. Prior to the RWC there was often mention in the media of the negative impact that irresponsible freedom camping was having on the environment, largely down to a lack of knowledge of where local facilities were. With this in mind, the CamperMate concept was created, and developer Adam Hutchinson from Mogeo started contacting local and central government for an initial data set of facility locations.
The ground work has obviously been done, as the app now contains a growing set of over 10,000 locations. With version 2, there is a slick new feature that ‘crowd sources’ new locations i.e. allows users to submit ‘yet to be found’ locations through the app. Once approved by the admin, these are added to the app and contribute to the growing number of facilities available to the next tourist. In the first two weeks of this feature being developed, Hutchinson states that over two hundred new locations were submitted and most were authenticated and approved.
The new version also allows users to view traveller submitted ‘travel tips’ that are marked to a specific GPS location and provide some interesting traveller advice on wherever you are in the country. Examples of interesting tips nearby me were a wild apple tree that was growing on a public rest area, a village market which has live music, and mention of a few different walks in the area.
Not only does it allow for users to submit new locations as mentioned above, but if facilities such as petrol stations or toilets no longer exist, then users can also submit this information through to the app also. Hutchinson believes:
[quote]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[/quote]
The app has received over 9,000 downloads since the rugby world cup and more features are currently in development.