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A3 Colour Maps @ 300DPI

I looked into a few different options when it came to custom cropping maps for this hike and in the end my brother Gordon offered to compile LINZ maps in Photoshop and trace my proposed route in Adobe Illustrator. A few people have asked how the maps were created so Gordon has described the process below. I would not have been able to take this task on with all that I had to do before the trip and as it turned out the job took a lot longer than what we first thought it would.

Organizing the maps started months ago and it’s required that kind of time to build them to what they are now. Digital maps printed in full colour @ 300DPI on oversized A3 stock, then trimmed to A3 (297x420mm).

Our objective: Kilometre markers along a traced path – EASY! Tracing the Te Araroa Trail from the North to South of New Zealand was time-consuming but overall mind numbingly easy once the brain had accepted its plight and committed itself to the idea. Estimated tracing time from North to South: 4 Days & 14 hours (give or take a couple of crashes along the way). It’s what the iMac was bought for. I just had no idea I’d end up a slave to it.

Initially I was working with vector paths that had been traced a couple of years back. I thought that this would save me hours of time but it didn’t take long before we realised that it was so much quicker to trace our own lines from scratch. What I also wanted was just one path extending the length of New Zealand with just one break in it being the Cook Strait. Having a single path increases the accuracy of the portrayed distance marked by the kilometre dots.

Cape Reinga - Northland, North Island.

Tracing the Te Araroa Trail from the North to South of New Zealand was the easy part. The hard part of building the maps was dealing with the enormous file sizes, opening them, changing them and then saving them. With some of the larger files, this process would take almost two hours so I had to be “sure to be sure” before making an adjustment. The largest files were the radii that overlay major cities, small towns and places of interest. As the scale of the LINZ (Land Information New Zealand) map is 1:50,000, the Photoshop files had to be w:5m x H:5m in order to house a radius of 125km @ 300DPI. From here the radius layer was dragged over to the map that required the radius. The radii were more of a fun idea to start off with but soon became extremely painful. As their reference to distance is aligned to the scale of the maps, accurate to the micro millimetre, Ken and I are happy to have them. It’s a unique way (for hikers), to judge how far away in time it is to the next town or feature of interest. A great way to cross reference ones position in conjunction with the GPS too.

One of South Island's Plan B Routes

The data used to create the maps alone exceeds 150GB. Not to worry! We still have 3.85 terribites of storage space left on the drive. I suppose Ken could have a go at filling the leftover space with photos and video from the hike? Nothing like having a bit of room to move around in.

Looking back, I’m so fortunate not to have known exactly what lay ahead of me when undertaking this massive exercise. I’m now happy to be involved and above all I feel privileged to have gained the knowledge of where my brother’s adventure will take him.

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