Google Trekker brings Great Walks to the screen

Matt Jenke covered 335km for the project (supplied)
Matt Jenke covered 335km for the project (supplied)

Forget the boots and backpacks, it's now possible to go tramping with just a few taps on an app, with seven of New Zealand's Great Walks captured on camera for Google Maps.

"People want to road-test their idea of whether they actually want to come to a country before they actually arrive," says Prime Minister John Key.

The four-year project was officially unveiled today, with Google keen to show off its Trekker technology.

"[It's] the ability to document and to share and not share just what a photographer wants you to see," says Google's Steve Silverman. "You can look anywhere you want with this imagery and it's up to the user to decide, not up to us."

Matt Jenke was the Kiwi trekker involved in the project. He covered 335km wearing the recording gear, and he gained quite a bit of attention doing it.

"All the selfies come out. I had one girl, she was a German girl, she thought it was a GoPro and I thought 'Mmm, [it's] slightly bigger’," he says.

Mr Jenke even managed to leave his mark for the audience of millions.

"There's been a few times that the sun's been at a certain angle that I can see my shadow, so sneakily I've been doing little pigeons or wolves on the side with my shadow."

And at 18kg, the backpack is certainly heavy.

"You wouldn't want to walk under something too low. Pretty cool, isn't it. It's got to be the easiest way of doing the tracks but there's nothing to beat the real experience," says Mr Key.

The Prime Minister admitted while he was keen to do the walks himself some time, he had no immediate plans and was more likely to experience them virtually.

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