Google gives NZ Street View major refresh

Screen grab from Google Street View of Christchurch Cathedral.
Screen grab from Google Street View of Christchurch Cathedral.

On the third anniversary of the massive magnitude-7.1 jolt that sparked the terrifying two-year Canterbury earthquake sequence, Cantabrians can take a trip down memory lane on Google Maps Street View.

Despite the internet behemoth announcing today that it has updated its Google Maps images, a quick search for `Christchurch CBD' brings back to life the city in better times.

The green-topped spire of the Christ Church Cathedral, which snapped in half in the deadly February 22, 2011 quake, still stands tall from old shots taken in 2007, surrounded by towering glass office blocks since demolished.

Other maps allow a stroll down the long since decimated High St as well as surrounding Tuam, Lichfield, and Manchester streets, which are now largely cleared city blocks.

Out in the eastern suburbs, the images are more up to date.

Images of Bexley - the worst hit area - reveal how creaked, cracked, and sunken houses are abandoned, with gardens and roadside verges overgrown and covered in dried liquefaction.

Google New Zealand spokesman Shane Treeves said the discrepancies were the result of roads being closed in Christchurch CBD when the Google cars passed through.

The images would be updated in the near future, he said.

The latest version of Street View, which was launched this afternoon, enables users to access almost every public road in New Zealand.

Google cars with top-mounted 360-degree cameras traversed the length of the country - and much of the world - to capture ground-level images of streets and everything on them.

"There are hundreds of kilometres of breathtaking mountains, coastal roads, snow-capped peaks,'' Mr Treeves said.

Street View has in the past captured images of people in compromising or amusing situations, and Mr Treeves said Google was ready to deal with any complaints as a result of the latest version of Street View.

"Faces and number plates are automatically blurred using at state of the art technology. There are tools to report inappropriate images.''

Mr Treeves said Street View cars around the world had covered about eight million kilometres.

Google was also working on a programme which would capture New Zealand's Great Walks, called Google Trecker, with which hikers can attach a camera to their backpacks to capture images of places not accessible by car.

It will be launched in the next few months.


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- APNZ

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