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South Canterbury road safety co-ordinator Daniel Naude

GPS maps are directing motorists off the beaten track – sometimes into South Canterbury riverbeds or paddocks.

An independent GPS system used by South Canterbury road safety co-ordinator Daniel Naude indicates a “Griffin Lane” in Orari turning off State Highway 1, but the roadway does not exist and is in fact a paddock.

Opuha St, which is also in Orari, appears as one long road on the system’s map, but is in fact divided by a railway line.

Only pedestrians can cross the railway line, while motorists have to take a different route to access the other end of Opuha St.

Orari’s Hawke Rd was also shown inaccurately on Google Maps, motorists being sent along the shingle and tarsealed road until they get to the Waihi River, Mr Naude said.

According to Google Maps, the road carried on through the river, despite there being no bridge, and continued all the way to Winchester-Geraldine Rd.

Mr Naude said motorists, particularly tourists, were often sent along the route if they had not set their GPS maps to exclude shingle roads.

“On the map it doesn’t appear to have a river, but it does and that’s where a lot of people end up getting stuck.”

Although signs alerted motorists to a ford, some tourists did not know what that was, Mr Naude said.

He had spoken to a German tourist who had been caught out by the GPS fault.

“They said their Google Maps took them on to Hawke Rd .. to get to Fairlie.”

The issue cropped up if people missed the turnoff to Orari Station Rd.

“I’ve heard of about 17 people [who] had to be pulled out [of the river],” he said.

He had since made submissions to Google, alerting the company to the various issues with its mapping system of South Canterbury.

He encouraged anyone with other concerns over the GPS mapping of the district to let him know so he could pass them on.

“Email me or call. I’d be interested to know where they are.”

Google Maps also made the Griffin Lane mistake.

“It tells people to turn on to Griffin Lane .. but it’s not a road at all – it used to be.

“[Now] there’s a fence at both ends and it’s part of a paddock.

“Obviously, we need to address these issues.”

He expected it would take some time to rectify the mistakes.

“I’ve had an email from them [Google] saying they will look into it and let me know.”

To contact Mr Naude with other South Canterbury GPS mapping issues email daniel.naude@timdc.govt.nz or or phone (03) 687-7235.