How I became the #1 mapper in New Zealand


I hate leaderboards. I think competition tends to corrupt the incentives people have to contribute to a goal.

Yet, at the same time, I was delighted to see that I was the top mapper in the whole of Aotearoa New Zealand.

For one specific week in December.

Screenshot showing that in the last 7 days I was the number 1 mapper in New Zealand the 42nd in the world.

They say golf is a good walk spoiled. StreetComplete is a good walk enhanced with sidequests. As you wander around, it asks you little questions about your environment. Is that post-box still there? Does this restaurant serve vegetarian food? Can you sit down at this bus stop? What's the surface of this footpath? All the data feeds in to OpenStreetMap to make better maps for the whole world.

I love it! As we took our roadtrip around the South Island I whipped out StreetComplete any chance I could. Walking along a hidden-away scenic track. Riding the bus through a new city. Bored while waiting for food to be served. Even in a taxi just meandering along, it's a great way to kill time.

It's more useful and productive than checking social media or doomscrolling the news. The quests can be a little repetitive - turns out there are a lot of roads which need to have their surface recorded - but there's always something to be done. Whether in a tiny village or a sprawling metropolis there are loads of quests.

You can see a history of all the quests I've completed

Map of the South Island covered with squares where I made edits.

I'm not sure whether me getting - albeit briefly - to the top spot was because I had a lot of time on holiday, or if the Kiwis just aren't that interested in mapping. But, either way, it was a fun way to see the country and engage with the built environment.

You can Download StreetComplete for Android.


5 thoughts on “How I became the #1 mapper in New Zealand

  1. says:

    @Edent Congratulations! I think i have only broken the top 30 once here in the US. I am hanging in just under 100 overall in the US. I would like to break into the top 1,000 in the global rank, but in the end I am happy to make the map better for everyone.

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