New Zealand has nine "Great Walks" - hiking tracks of international note and reputation, sought-after experiences for hikers, walkers and outdoors adventurers the world over. For the first time, Master Cartographer Roger Smith from Geographix has teamed up with Craig Potton Publishing to produce a genre-redefining set of maps, with a groundbreaking new media - Rockstock.
Rockstock is a high quality, coated paper with outstanding environmental values that prints extremely well using standard inks. It can be used in most situations where conventional and synthetic paper is used and offers exceptional printing, water proofing and durability qualities. It is both recyclable and photo-degradable.
The Nine Great Walks are:
• Lake Waikaremoana Track
• Whanganui Journey
• Tongariro Northern Circuit
• Abel Tasman Coast Track
• Heaphy Track
• Routeburn Track
• Milford Track
• Kepler Track
• Rakiura Track (Stewart Island)
• Additional 3D Map on reverse
• Award-winning relief mapping
• Track notes, elevation and distance graphic
• Printed on waterproof, tear-resistant, environmentally sustainable 'Rockstock' paper.
In my younger days, living in Waiouru, I could often be found out wandering the wild places. As part of our high school curriculum, hikes along the Tongariro Northern Circuit were an annual event. So, based off some vague memories of that hike still remaining, I got a chippy of this map for review.
Out in the wilds, paper maps are usually laminated, our folded up into ziplock plastic bags. Either way, they suffer torments that would make the seven levels of Dante's hells look like a stroll in the sunshine. I have seen a ranger that are printed on tear-proof plastic 'paper' but the environmental cost of producing them is horrendous, and the lasting impact on the ecosystem of a map dropped on the track is long-lasting. So this radical new 'paper' - Rockstock - was quite frankly the biggest revolution to outdoors recreation in the last decade, IMHO.
The Rockstock is made out of ground-down stone and building industry offcuts, so it is not using anything that had to be specially processed before hand, such as paper pulp. Nor does the manufacture require any of the usual chemical culprits - acid, alkali or bleach. This makes it highly recyclable, and should you drop it on the track and lose it, it will eventually break down via photodegradation. Plus, it's waterproof in its natural state, meaning no bully lamination or plastic bag required. You can even, if in dire need, make a water vessel out of it! That really tickles my MacGyver gland.
The cartography is, of course, top-notch and stunning in its detail. Landmarks familiar from the ground are easily detectable on the map, which is remarkable in itself. The clear contour lines are invaluable for hikers who may need advance warning of steep climbs or drops if they decide to go off-track. This functionality is enhanced by the 3D map in the other side.
Overall, this is a map series blazing new trails, and they are cutting such a swath that I hope to see many 'regular' maps emulating the style, detail and functionality. I would also like to see more maps printed on this Rockstock material. The only tiny niggle is the smell... When freshly printed, these maps are a little pungent and may benefit from a few days outside in the rain to 'season them' a little.
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