5 Mar 19: Trekker Waka Maps New Zealand’s Longest River

The Google Street View Trekker has travelled down the Venetian Canals, the Colorado River and London’s River Thames, and now it has traversed the length of New Zealand’s longest river. All 425 kilometres of the Waikato River will launch today on Google Street View.

To capture the Waikato River and all its beauty, the Google Street View Trekker was installed on a number of boats to get a unique water perspective. The trip started on board the “Poutiaki” (kindly provided by Waikato Tainui) and concluded with the support of the Taupo Coast Guard RIB.

With training and guidance from our local intrepid trekker and Google Street View Ops Lead in NZ, Matt Jenke, the Waikato River Festival – He Piko He Taniwha team carefully mounted the Trekker system, which weighs around 18 kilograms, onto each boat used throughout the project; then spent over a month collecting imagery from Port Waikato all the way to Lake Taupo.

With 15 camera lenses taking photos every 2.5 seconds, panoramic imagery was captured to create an interactive 360 degree virtual tour now visible for aspiring or armchair travellers across the globe via Google Street View.

Weather, logistics, rapids and hydro dams were some challenges navigated along the way - but with the support of boat owners, volunteer skippers and crew (including the Upper and Lower Waikato Regional Council Harbour Masters), the Waikato River Festival team (and Trekker) were kept safe. With eight dams along the river and at least three sets of rapids making sections of the river inaccessible by boat, supplementary 360 aerial imagery was collected by drone to make sure you don’t miss a centimeter of scenery.

“The realisation of this project required a real collaborative effort from various community stakeholders along the length of the river,” said Craig Muntz, Waikato River Festival Director. “We are extremely thankful for the community support received which has in turn resulted in the production of a community resource that also offers a great platform for sharing the story of the river and our region with nearly every bend on the river having a rich story to tell.”

Take a peek at the full Waikato River gallery here before your next trip to the region or to simply learn more about this fascinating stretch of the North Island.