If you like topo maps, and especially trawling through historic topo maps of New Zealand, then check out the new MapsPast website, thrown together by Matt Briggs.
Maps are great. For me, looking at maps and understanding what’s around is a fundamental aspect of tramping and getting outdoors to explore. Maps change over time, though. Whilst terrain doesn’t change rapidly, representation of features on maps often do. Locations of huts, campsites, tracks and common routes is often a fluid thing, and so looking at older maps can open windows to the past.
In New Zealand we’re very fortunate that good quality survey information is surveyed, produced and made freely and easily available by the government, most recently handled by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ). The current flagship map series that’s most popular in tramping circles is the 1:50000 Topo50 series, which replaced NZMS260 a few years ago. But as new series’ and new editions of series’ are published, historic information can sometimes become obscured or lost.
MapsPast combines the modern Topo50 map series with a variety of older map series’, and makes it easy to switch between the layers. It has the potential to be a very nice resource for re-discovering old routes, but even just gazing at some of the rendering and art work on older maps is interesting.
There’s an ongoing discussion at the NZ Tramper website regarding development of the website.