Project Tongariro in the central North Island has launched New Zealand’s first interactive smartphone application for a National Park – just in time for the busy summer walking season. Called the Pocket Ranger, the ‘free to download’ app is designed to offer an interactive and multi-media experience that provides interpretation, maps and images of the unique natural features of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, while at the same time conveys important safety messages.
The Department of Conservation has partnered with Project Tongariro with the development of the app as they see it as a fantastic opportunity to enhance the visitor experience to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and Tongariro National Park. It gives the stories and information about the Crossing and the Park to everyone who downloads it. The broader benefits of the app and working closely with Project Tongariro are about investing the funding that the app will generate into a range of restoration projects within the park. Its a win win.
The app is available in both iPhone and Android versions.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is rated as the best one-day trek in New Zealand and listed by many in the top 10 day treks in the world – over 80,000 tourists walk it each year. Conveying information without cluttering the landscape with signage has posed a problem, until the idea of the Pocket Ranger app was developed.
“Now people can download as much information as they want, right there on the track,” says Karen Williams, President of Project Tongariro. “It also allows visitors to research the area before they arrive and make sure they are prepared for the changeable weather conditions the region is known for”.
“We’ve been involved with producing books and brochures about the park for years, but the Pocket Ranger is a real breakthrough”.
“With ever increasing smart phone ownership, it made sense to move with the times,” adds Karen Williams.
“We’ve already had significant interest from other parks and organisations in New Zealand that are keen to use our template to provide a more interactive and informative experience for their visitors’.
“It’s early days yet but we’re looking forward to feedback about the Pocket Ranger and refining the information we’re providing,” says Karen Williams.