19 May 2009

Take a New Zealand Virtual Tour

The first thing that my friends said when they learned that we were moving to New Zealand was that I must send or show photos online of this country which they only know of as having more sheep than people. Of course, the Lord of the Rings movie also played a very important role in putting New Zealand on the map, along with the latest Amazing Race zipping its way across Auckland. But thanks to another Google innovation, people no longer have to wait for others to post photos about New Zealand or other countries for that matter. One can take a virtual tour through Google Maps!

First, point your browser to http://maps.google.com. Then on the search field, type in the name of the city you would like to tour. In my example, it's Wellington, New Zealand.

You will then be directed to the city of your choice which you can view either as a map, a satellite image, or a terrain. The map version is shown below. You will notice at the upper left of the screen is the directional circle whereby clicking on an arrow will move the map to the direction indicated (although I find it easier to drag the map around). Immediately below this circle is the icon of a person. This is where the virtual tour starts. If the person is colored yellow, then it means that the Google Street View is available (otherwise, it's in gray).
Using your mouse pointer, grab that person and then lift it off and drag it onto the map. Immediately below this person is a circle which shows where he will be landing, as well as a screenshot of the street. The roadways for which this feature is available will also be highlighted in a blue outline.

Drop the person onto a street and voila! Actual view of the street! You can take a 360-degree view of the street, and move forward and backward. Really amazing.

At the upper right section of the screen is a zoom feature (in the form of a square) beside an X (which terminates Google Street View and returns you to Maps). Click on the zoom feature and the street feature takes up your entire computer screen!This is a cool and useful feature. I find it very handy for times when I have to go someplace and this is a great way to familiarize yourself with your destination.
You will also notice that there aren't really a lot of people here in New Zealand. I am still amazed at how very few people are walking about in the city on weekend mornings in contrast to busy Manila and increasingly, Baguio in the Philippines.

I'm not sure if you can see sheep wandering about though...


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