Online 'buddy' tracks trampers

Last updated 13:00 28/12/2012

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A free online outdoor intentions service set up by a Nelson company has been launched nationwide.

Adventure Buddy is a monitored intentions service provided by Adventure Gear Hire in Nelson.

Its directors, George Turner and Don Schwass, have more than 60 years' experience tramping, camping, and in bushcraft, and over 30 years' experience in search and rescue activities between them.

Mr Schwass said they decided to set up the system and monitor it as a way to give something back to the community.

It also fitted well with their gear hire business as they needed to get information from people using locator beacons.

He said from his experience with search and rescue a lot of time people who went into the outdoors did not leave detailed intentions. They thought they could come up with a system that worked better including information they would want from a search and rescue perspective if a search had to be mounted.

Mr Schwass said before heading into the backcountry, outdoors enthusiasts simply complete an online form with details of their trip, including where they were going, who was going with them, what equipment they were carrying and a time and date when they were due back.

The system also asked for a photo of the person or people in the party and a photo of their gear.

The system could be accessed through the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council website and has been approved by the country's outdoor safety agencies.

Mr Schwass said the Adventure Buddy service could be especially useful for international visitors or tourists visiting New Zealand who did not necessarily have a trusted contact in New Zealand or someone immediately available overseas.

If the user had not checked in by the due date and time, then the system notified the Adventure Buddy team who attempted to contact the user and their registered contact persons. If the missing person still could not be located then the Adventure Buddy team would raise the alert directly with the New Zealand Police.

"While we recognised that other mechanisms exist to ‘tell someone' we wanted to provide a free monitoring system to provide outdoor enthusiasts the added peace of mind that someone is watching out for them and will raise the alarm if they become overdue," Mr Schwass said.

Mountain Safety Council chief executive Darryl Carpenter said other systems to log intentions existed and he did not mind which mechanism people used, so long as people told someone.

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"The key messages this summer are get out into the outdoors and have a great time, plan and prepare by using the outdoor safety code as a guide and make sure you ‘tell someone' your trip intentions before you head off on your adventure, as it may save your life if something unexpected happens," he said.

More information on outdoors intentions and approved providers can be found at adventuresmart. org.nz

- The Nelson Mail

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