Orientation: GPS, Basecamp, GPX tracks…

This article will share my (brand new) experience of GPS use, Basecamp software, GPX files.


GPS is just a tool. Never rely only on technology ! You must know to use a compass and maps. Technology will never replace orientation and tramping skills ! You must learn how to use a GPS and your data, don’t only rely on, but first of all, know what you do. Trust only on you and your skills.

As you by a GPS, you only by a Hardware, a tool, a small computer. Whatever the brand or model,  its use will rely on the data you will have created, studied, and got used to. You may get used to a software to build it: in this case BASECAMP.


When you buy a GPS you first think you will see your position, the referenced track you follow superposed to it and a beautiful, accurate TOPOgraphic maps… Forget it !

GPS is just a tool. Don’t forget there is a business behind. If a GPS costs some money, precise topographic maps cost much more. 1:50 000 maps are very useful but more expensive as the GPS itself. Consequently GPS restrict the possibility to display maps.

Topographic maps / KMZ files:

Topographic maps that could be displayed by a GPS are KMZ files. They could be superposed on you track thank to Basecamp. But you can display very few KMZ on your GPS. In fact a KMZ file is like a compressed file including numbers of jpeg images referenced geographically. The problem is that GPS can not let store/read/or display more than 100 jpeg files and a predifined size of KMZ file. Take a 1:50 000 KMZ file, of a precise area, it will be OK.
Take the 100 KMZ files to cover all Te Araroa tracks, you will be able to display only the first and/or second map…
To bad for you !

So forget it !

Once you have switched your mind, you will overcome this frustration: 1:250 000 or 1:50 000 maps must be printed ans used “in hands” as you are a high-skill tramper… with eyes, orientation skills and a compass.

N.Z. cartographic files / IMG files:

IMG files are the backlayer of the GPS display. It is what you want to see a topographic view in the background… on which you track and current position will appear. To bad for you too: IMG files are produced by GPS firms… you must by it if you want accurate files. Don’t panic, web users are kind and you will find “Open Source Maps” (link at the very end of this article). I would like to thank all contributors to this OMS project because you can fin IMG file covering quite/sufficiently precisely N.Z.

Your tracks, points of interest… / GPX files:

So now you are happy: you have your small computer (you GPS) and a topographic background (a IMG … or multiple IMG files of different accuracy). What you need now is the sur-impressed Tracks of you hiking project… and maybe some resupply or camping location. Thank to all previous hiker you can find or create GPX files with BASECAMP.
You can created a brand new track pointing yourself you track over a precise topographic KMZ file with BaseCamp, or you can use, modify, assembly existing GPX files… as you can create GPX files including locations (resupply stores, basecamps, camp-sites…) from a simple “Calc” file as XLS or CVS.

Thank to all previous trampers and hikers you will find what you need.
But do not forget to verify the data. Exemple: you’re happy to find all the 3000km track from Te Araroa online… download it… you may find the “one piece” (1 track) track, or “region portions” (10 tracks) , or “every single” tracks (more than 300 tracks)… but you can discovered that:

  • they are registered Sud to North… to bad for you… you must modify it !
  • they are registered by name and not by hiking order once you watch it on your GPS… to bad for you… you must rename it


always check it, control, recheck and make your own.

I can testify that it could be more useful than it looks: Once you have verified all (<300) sections, waypoints (resupply or camp), you will have a very good mind-view of the Trek: give me a Track Name, now I’m able to tell you where it take place on a map !

Get the files

Once you know that: prepare you downloader, go get a coffee to wait during download and start enjoying:

NZ TOPO maps:



Basecamp software:


New-Zealand IMG files (topographic background)



(you can/should download and install many IMG maps on your GPS)
YOU MAY NEED TO LAUNCH “MapInsall” to install it: DO IT !

Track, waypoints… GPX files

You will find different GPX on the:

“Te Araroa Facebook Group”  (in “files”)

Te Araroa Forum

Te Araroa Google Group

I can’t upload GPX files on this Blog, nevertheless you can “Contact me” i can sent you directly the files I have created among the below list:

  • “One Single Track” : Te Araroa Track in one single, uncut track
  • “Island Track”: All section regrouped by Islands… so 2 tracks
  • “Region’s Tracks”: Sections regroup by Regions… so 10 tracks
  • “All section”: all and detail sections (<300 tracks), by name and organize in order N->S
  • “Base Camps”: 155 waypoints (doc Camp-site, private, wild) thanks to previous TA tramper Charlie Barran 2012
  • “Resupply locations”: 31 resupply locations on TA thanks to previous TA tramper Charlie Barran 2012
  • “Other Tracks”: variations, other linked tracks to TA
  • All in one… you know what I mean.

2 thoughts on “Orientation: GPS, Basecamp, GPX tracks…

  1. Pingback: Prepa Sommaire | Te Araroa Super-Tramp

  2. Pingback: Resupply, Post Restante, Bounce box, Food box… | Te Araroa Super-Tramp

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