Nelson’s mountain biking trails get Google Streetview treatment

Nelson’s mountain biking trails get Google Streetview treatment

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Nelson Mountain Bike Club in association with Google Streetview is treading new ground to showcase the riding and walking tracks of the Nelson region.

New Zealand: New Zealand-based Nelson Mountain Bike Club (NMTBC) in association with Google Streetview is treading new ground to showcase the riding and walking tracks of the Nelson region.

NMTBC secretary Paul Jennings said the club had been in discussions with Google in recent weeks to use one of its state-of-the-art digital geo-mapping cameras to scan the 100km trail network.

“They’ve not done many mountain bike trails in New Zealand before, so it’s kind of a first for them.”

Jennings said the mapping offered another dimension to mountain biking in Nelson in terms of extending its global reach, giving potential riders a better idea of what to expect when they arrive.

The backpacked equipment weighs about 20kg, including the main unit and a couple of long-life batteries.

On top are 15 cameras pointing in fixed directions which capture a constant stream of high-definition images. The footage is then sent back to Google for editing before going up online in a few weeks time.

Jennings said there were a lot of finer points to consider in the filming process, such as ensuring cameras are kept clean and held in a steady vertical position. The difficulty of capturing off-road images also meant the initial plan to capture the footage using an e-bike had to be rethought, with the entire process is being completed on foot instead.

“There’s a right way to use it and I think now we’ve gone through that learning phase with them it’ll be a lot easier to roll it out.”

The finished product will provide a Streetview fly-through of the trails network on Google Maps, allowing viewers to access 360-degree perspective of a particular point along the trails.

Thanks to some weekend sessions by club members and the work of trails manager Ben Pointer, the club has already tracked half of Codgers and parts of the Dun Mountain trail.

However, steeper and hard-to-access areas within the network were unlikely to be filmed.

Jennings said the project would be completed over several stages in the coming months, although he was keen to make use of Nelson’s winter vistas.

“It shouldn’t do Nelson tourism any harm to see beautiful crisp views across the bay – if anything it’s better than summer because there’s no heat haze so you can see a long distance from the mountain.”