New and improved Great Rides App launched

Published 2022-07-11

Need help picking, planning and plotting your next adventure on Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trails? It sounds like time you downloaded the upgraded Great Rides App! It's free, easy to use and works offline too.

Created by passionate rider and cartographer, Gary Patterson, the Great Rides App is a Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trails' national partner, and the only mobile app featuring all 23 Great Rides, plus plenty of bonus rides too.

He's spent the last six months overhauling this already awesome app and updating all 1500+ pages and 7000+ photos. Nice work Gary! The upgraded app not only looks fabulous and is easier to use, it also has some fantastic new features, including a tree-identification tool and bird calls to enhance your riding experiences. Other useful additions include a New Zealand overview map and inspiring high-quality video.

Cartographer and super-keen cyclist Gary Patterson – creator of the fantastic Great Rides App.

Amongst its many pages are stacks of maps, video fly-thrus, elevation profiles, trail section descriptions and photos, along with details of trail services such as bike hire, shuttles, food and accommodation.

New Zealand's newest Great Rides – the Whakarewarewa Forest Loop and Lake Dunstan Trail – are both featured in beautiful  new pages, alongside the existing 21 Great Rides, and some bonus trails thrown in too.

The app boasts offline tracking using mobile GPS and once a trail is downloaded it works totally offline without needing mobile coverage!

What’s more, the Great Rides App is 100% New Zealand-made and FREE!

The beautifully upgraded Great Rides App.

Download the app from:


If you've already downloaded it, check your updates to make sure you have the latest version. Find out more about the Great Rides App here.

We chatted with Gary recently to find out more about his wonderful work on the Great Rides:

Q: What inspired you to create the app?

Gary:  I'm a cartographer, so mapping is something I've always done. I used to work for DOC as a huts and tracks project manager, and was part of the NZ Trail Solutions team hand-building and mapping trails in several countries around the world, including Nelson's Wairoa Gorge for many years. This, and getting disorientated when riding the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail (never good for a cartographer!), lead to the idea of building an app for the New Zealand Cycle Trail. This was around five years ago. It took half a year to ride all the trails and another six months to build the content for the app. More recently I walked all the Great Walks and most of the private tracks and built the Great Hikes App which is also becoming popular.

Q: What is a day mapping a ride like?

Gary: There's quite a bit of prep, picking good weather (for photos and reducing GPS reflection error), making sure all the batteries are charged and spares are packed just in case. Then I get out there riding, turning on three GPS units, checking they're recording at one-second intervals and then making sure I'm familiar with the places I need to visit along the way. A mapping ride is like no other! There's no speeding around corners as I need to capture good data and little time for breaks. Waypointing, photographing and taking notes, repeat, repeat, and repeat again and again. I take my wife along for some of the rides but she tells me it's a bit like going on holiday with a photographer!

Q: How long does it take, and what are the challenges?

Gary: It depends on the trail length. I normally ride longer days in summer, getting on the bike by 8am and off around 6pm. Having a comfortable seat and plenty of riding fitness helps. I'm pretty focused usually as it takes time and money to return to a trail to collect missing data! While I can get some better pics from the pros once back at the office, getting better GPS data I can rely on isn't possible. I've mapped all the trails that are on the app. Often I'll cycle a lot further than the actual trail lengths  as I'm mapping side tracks, doubling back to get to my car, or just want better data or photos so end up biking it twice. No day is the same. Once a Great Ride is captured, I love returning to ride it again at a more relaxed pace and being able to stop and smell the roses.

Q: What’s your favourite New Zealand ride?

Gary: Oh, that is a tough one! For a day ride I love the Coppermine Trail; this loop has a bit of everything. For an overnighter, I think the Paparoa Track is difficult to beat, although I might be a bit biased as I spent around a dozen weeks in the field helping with the trail alignment for cycling prior to construction – what an office!

Gary out mapping the Lake Dunstan Trail with his wee helper Geo (Gary Patterson).