Virtualtrails App: Supported by Ackama

How Ackama’s Investment Time Catalysed the Creation of the Virtualtrails app.

Ackama offers investment time allowing space for our staff to share knowledge, collaborate, and extend their skills with learning and experimentation. Today we’re proud to share Virtualtrails, an application created by Ackama solution architect Josh McArthur during investment time. 



Virtualtrails is an application, available for iOS and web that allows users to virtually walk tracks around Aotearoa/New Zealand by recording their everyday exercise, whether it’s a short walk, a run around the block or a multi-day hike.

Josh started the project to help make iconic outdoor walking experiences more accessible to people without the confidence, skills or means to explore these spots from around New Zealand and the world. An additional objective for the application was to provide motivation for regular physical exercise, by providing regular updates, achievements, and data-rich map visualisations based on walking and running activities tracked in the application by users.

Leveraging nearly two decades of experience of web, mobile and geospatial development, as well as a lifetime of experience in the NZ outdoors, Josh was able to utilise investment time to create a prototype, then collaborate with other members of our team to validate the concept, create a feature backlog, then develop a fully-fledged product and platform encompassing infrastructure, route management tools, backend, frontend and mobile components. Rory Harnden, a senior designer at Ackama, has made particularly valuable contributions to the project,  creating a strong visual identity for the platform, providing a foundation for growth and bringing a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of visual storytelling.


Recognising that fitness tracking is already well-served by a range of existing platforms, Josh chose to integrate rather than replace this aspect of Virtualtrails. By connecting their Virtualtrails account to Strava, Garmin, Fitbit or Apple, users can automatically record and track their workouts against their Virtualtrails journey. A rich notification system allows for regular updates, including the progress of a journey, and achievements earned along the way as a user reaches milestones or points of interest along the journey. An iOS app offers deep integration with the Apple Health fitness platform, allowing tracking of walking, running, or wheelchair workouts recorded on iPad, iPhone, or Apple Watch devices automatically.

At its core, Virtualtrails is a community-driven platform. It encourages users to share their journey, to show off progress or be cheered along by family or friends. Users can also participate in challenges, and even form teams to tackle longer journeys together, creating a sense of community and mutual support. The app isn’t just about individual achievement; it’s about creating a shared experience, celebrating each step together, and inspiring one another to explore further. Virtualtrails continues to grow with new trails being added constantly to unlock new experiences.

Initially focusing on New Zealand’s Great Walk network, Virtualtrails now offers diverse virtual experiences, like a trek to Mount Everest, or a canoe paddle down the Whanganui River. Feedback and ideas from the community are not just welcomed but are integral to the app’s development, reflecting a dynamic platform that evolves to meet the needs of its users.


Ackama’s investment time program provided an invaluable step up for Josh to build our Virtualtrails into the platform it is today, and is a fantastic, tangible demonstration of how our collaborative, pragmatic and solution-oriented team comes together to support one another to grow, develop, and learn. 




Join the journey at Virtualtrails today and start exploring Aotearoa/New Zealand and the world at, or search ‘Virtualtrails’ on the App Store.

Download Virtualtrails on the App Store