Plan My Walk | MSC | App | Website Development

A life saving app that helps walkers and trampers in New Zealand stay safe in the outdoors

The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council came to Somar Digital to design and build an all-in-one website and app that gives people the information they need to plan a walk or hike on the 1000s of amazing tracks across NZ.

The result is a major step towards helping save lives in the outdoors by bringing together the most important information, like track difficulty, weather alerts, and conditions, itemised gear lists plus sharing your trip plans with friends and family. link)

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1.1 million people in the outdoors every year

outdoor incident stats nz

Somar Digital and MSC utilized detailed data on incidents in the outdoors in NZ and user research to inform the direction of the app. There are an average of almost 6,000 reported incidents in the outdoors every year and 540 of those need search and rescue. MSC has seen a steady increase over the last ten years. The goal of building the app is to help better prepare people for the outdoors and to try and reduce these numbers.

outdoor incident stats nz

MSC and Somar Digital partnership

nzaa homepage on laptop

Somar Digital and MSC have proven experience working together on projects ranging from the main MSC website to the Avalanche Advisory website, which provides vital safety information for people out in the alpine regions of NZ. There is a high trust factor in the relationship between Somar Digital and MSC, which means that MSC knows they can rely on Somar Digital to deliver high-quality projects on time and on budget that also provide a benefit to society.

nzaa homepage on laptop

1000+ tracks

tracks around tongariro map

Data was brought in from the likes of the Department of Conservation and Metservice which provides track information and up-to-date weather forecasts for the app. The track information from DoC includes track length and difficulty plus accessibility information like if it is wheelchair accessible and if it is dog friendly. It is important for users to have the right expectations set before embarking on a walk or tramp and to give them the best indication of what kind of conditions they’re in for.

tracks around tongariro map

Weather forecast and alerts

PMW weather alerts on mobile

A ton of work was put in by the Somar Digital web development team to map the Metservice data to the Plan My Walk app so that users get accurate and up-to-date weather forecasts and alerts specific to the track they have selected. Furthermore, an itemised gear list is provided based on the difficulty of the track they have selected. The NZ climate It's not uncommon to experience four seasons in the space of an hour in NZ so not only do users need to know what the weather conditions are before they head off but it's vital that they take the correct gear with them so they don't get caught out if the weather turns bad.

PMW weather alerts on mobile

Planning and sharing your walk

boy and woman looking at plan my walk website on laptop

Once a user has selected a track and date they can then share the plan with anyone they are going on the trip with and any emergency contacts. This is especially useful for solo travelers but is also just general best practice for anyone heading out into areas that may be hazardous or have limited cell phone reception. Communicating your plans with people about your whereabouts in the outdoors is an important safety measure and sets the right expectations for everyone that is going on the walk.

boy and woman looking at plan my walk website on laptop

User reviews and advice

tongariro crossing track reviews

One of the features of the app is that users can add their own reviews to tracks. Along with the data from Metservice and DoC the user reviews are super helpful as it gives users real-world advice from real-world experience. It gives users the most up-to-date assessment of the track from people who have recently completed the track. This also helps users engage with the app more. We wanted to build an app that has really strong UX design.

tongariro crossing track reviews
woman using plan my walk app on phone
plan my walk media coverage
plan my walk button and navigation designs


Innovative and unique solution

There isn’t another product on the market that does what the Plan My Walk app does. Somar Digital were able to bring this highly complex product together thanks to organising the project into agile sprints which meant that our web design and development teams were able to be super flexible and able to accomplish a lot in a tight time frame.

UX and UI Design

The UX and UI design has gone through rigorous testing to make sure that it is optimised for people using the App. The main navigation appears at the bottom of the page on mobile and each tab is sequenced in such a way that helps users plan a walk as easily as possible. Not only is the app engaging for users but it has been designed with accessibility in mind so that users of all demographics can use it.

Saving lives and taxpayer dollars

On average there are 540 people who need search and rescue and 13 fatalities per year. Ultimately the goal of the app is to help reduce these numbers by better preparing people for exploring the NZ outdoors. This product represents a genuine effort to provide a meaningful and tangible difference to people's lives.  

App Version 2 Updates

Since going live we have worked closely with MSC to make improvements to the App. These include new tracks and detailed content, a new user profile section that includes the ability to download your trip plan as a PDF for offline access, and an improved Plan section among other improvements. Building an App that really resonates with Users is an ongoing process and having a partner like MSC who truly cares about the work they do gives us confidence that we are building a product that makes a difference.

Surpassing user goals

So far the Plan My Walk app has over 200,000 users! This is an awesome achievement as our original goal was to get to 150,000 users. On top of that, the average user engagement time is 4 minutes 45 seconds which is a good indicator that users are actually engaging with the app. We ultimately want people to not only download the app but get real value from it.