From the beaches of Goat Island and the slopes of Mount Eden to the hallowed soil of Eden Park, New Zealand is filled with both natural and man-made wonders. This week we’re bringing two new features to Google Maps in New Zealand that we hope will help Kiwis better explore their world: cycling directions and Google Map Maker. Biking routes improve the overall comprehensiveness and usability of the map, while the ability to contribute your local knowledge via Map Maker will help ensure that the maps remain accurate and up-to-date.

First up is cycling directions which starts rolling out today. Cycling Directions gives you a brand new way of getting around town. Until now the Get Directions button has helped Maps users find their way to places by car, foot and public transport, but now we can help you find the best way to ride your bike from different locations. This should be helpful if you want to bike to work or local shops, or simply want to spend more time outdoors on the weekends.

Thanks to the cycle data we received from organizations such as Wellington Regional Council, Auckland Transport, The National Cycle Trails Project, and Hastings City Council, we can provide efficient routes, allow riders to customize their trip, make use of dedicated cycle lanes and calculate rider-friendly routes that avoid big hills. If you want to get a look at bike trails, dedicated bike lanes and bicycle-friendly streets, you will be able to turn on the Bicycling layer on the right-hand side.

As an example: when I commute from Remuera in Auckland to the Google office, biking directions will show me the most convenient and efficient route that makes use of dedicated cycle lanes and avoids hills whenever practical.

Our second new feature for New Zealand is Google Map Maker. This service is available in over 200 countries and lets users contribute their local knowledge to make a more detailed and comprehensive map of the changing world around us. Get started by looking at your own neighbourhood. Add building footprints for all the restaurants along the beach, update the one way street that just recently became a two-way, or even map the local rugby club before heading off to a game.

Once your contributions are approved, they will appear on Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Maps for mobile to more accurately reflect your neighbourhood. To find out more and see some time-lapse mapping of the world, check out the Map Maker YouTube Channel.

The great thing is that these two new launches work very well together — if you want to add bicycle lanes or trails in your local town, just go to Map Maker and put them in.

We hope these new features in Google Maps help Kiwis get even more familiar with their surroundings — either seeing leisurely from a bicycle seat or from more detailed maps.

Posted by Nabil Naghdy, Product Manager for Google Maps Australia & New Zealand