Lake Waro, in Whangarei with doges Rufus (the big one) and Minnie (the little one). Credit: aimee whitcroft, 2016

Mapping your walkies

Whangarei is gorgeous (but unmapped).

Truly. It’s a very, very beautiful place. And so intertwined with the nature around it.

Being a Wellingtonian and therefore fortunate enough that my council publicly releases data on dog-accessible areas, I was expecting the same when pooch and I came for a winter sojourn in Whangarei.

I was so very wrong.

An awful lot of the tracks and trails around here don’t allow dogs anywhere near them. This is a conservation measure, and one I understand. But when one has to assume that any given trail _doesn’t_ allow dogs, making sure one gets it right becomes doubly important.

The Whangarei District Council does have a page which tells one about dog exercise areas, but many of those locations are near impossible to find on the internet, and there’s no address or GIS data at _all_.

WDC’s dog exercise areas page

I’ve got a request in for all their data, but in the meantime, I started mapping my walks. The idea was to build a resource of places where one can (because I have) taken my beloved pooches for runs and walks — a resource that’s publicly accessible, and to which others can add over time.

Something which lives :)

For now, the map’s primary home is on Google Maps

Some of the walks/runs I’ve been doing with the doge(s) — check out full size map for them all, including Waro Lake (north of what’s visible here).

Mapping your own walkies

And hence to the point of this post. I was asked “how do you DO this? Because I’d like to do it where I live”.

So, here you go.

  1. Download onto your smart phone an exercise app which can take GPS records of your exercise. Runkeeper and MapMyRun / MapMyWalk / MapMyFitness do this, as I’m sure do lots of others.
  2. Go for a walk/run/cycle, making sure the app is on and tracking your route as you go.
  3. Return home, rehydrate and feel smug about having got Exercise and Data simultaneously.
  4. Export the data from your trip. The exact process will be a bit different for different apps, but check their support sections for instructions. Essentially you’ll be pulling down a .gpx or .kml file — or a .zip file containing a bunch of .kml/.gpx files.
  5. Decide where you want to put your track. Your options include, but aren’t limited to, Google Earth and OpenStreetMap. Each has its own pros and cons, so I’d suggest having a play with both.
  6. If you want to format your map and have it look _extra_ beautiful, you can pull the data into something like CartoDB (my current favourite), MapBox (also awesome), Kartograph (requires more coding ability), or one of a host of others. Again, experimenting will help you decide what works best for you, and why.

With all the above systems, you can spend countless happy seconds to hours playing with formatting, base map type, and basically how it all displays and works.

And that’s basically it. Each of those sites have detailed instructions for how to do just about anything you could possibly want to and, of course, when in doubt Ask Google — that’s how I’ve learned, anyway.

So, go forth and play! Because it’s awesome, and fun, and makes things.

Any issues or confusions? Give me a shout.

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Linky goodness

Mapping kids ‘n dogs — a map built in MapBox

NZ coworking spaces — a map built in CartoDB





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