App helps travellers spend a penny
Adam Hutchinson is helping travellers in New Zealand find their way to the toilet. And he's doing it for free.
Hutchinson's startup Christchurch mobile technology business, Mogeo, has developed a mobile application called CamperMate, which maps local amenities in New Zealand.
The app has already been downloaded more than 9500 times.
The CamperMate app is free to download, and uses the GPS function of smartphones to highlight useful facilities near the user's location, such as public toilets, rubbish bins, campsites, free wi-fi and supermarkets.
The latest version of the app allows users to add the locations of amenities or other places they find as they travel New Zealand.
Recording these co-ordinates would make it easier for other travellers to be responsible campers, hopefully reducing the damage to the environment and improve freedom campers' experience of New Zealand, Hutchinson said.
More than 400 new locations across the country have been added to CamperMate since the latest version went live four weeks ago.
There are now more than 10,000 locations on the app, including a hidden swimming hole near Nelson submitted by Jean from France and a water spring on the way to Queenstown, submitted by Sarah from England.
Travellers are changing the way they navigate, relying increasingly on their mobile phones and the internet to research and plan their trips, Hutchinson said.
A lot of people start researching a place online before they leave home and a search for "New Zealand travel apps" turns up CamperMate being referenced on forums by other travellers.
"You recognise it so much when you go into hostels, you see everyone with their smartphone.
"The way people are travelling is definitely changing."
Hutchinson started working on the CamperMate idea in 2006 while spending a summer travelling from one end of the country to the other on a 50cc scooter, and he saw then the opportunity to make it easier for travellers to find essential day-to-day locations.
Seeing the negative impact that freedom camping could have, he decided to start recording the GPS co-ordinates of places of interest as well as public facilities that freedom campers could use.
CamperMate is a free app, and Mogeo doesn't make any money from the app. So why do it? For fun, Hutchinson said. It was an experimental project and it was rewarding to see it being used in real life.