All eyes on Nelson


Nelsonians – you are being watched and people from all around the world are tuning in.

Local business Snapit HD has five public cameras dotted around the region which live streams Nelson to the world. And the world is watching.

Snapit HD cameras in Kaiteriteri.
Snapit HD cameras in Kaiteriteri.

Paul Jeffries, from the 10-year-old company says that, perhaps unsurprisingly, its live streaming camera at Kaiteriteri is its most popular.

“In summer we can get up to 7000 people a day tuning in,” he says. It gets people from all over the world. We assume it’s those who might have visited before and want to relive the experience a little bit.”

The camera sits on top of a local cafe and picks up the comings and goings of beachgoers and boats, in real time.

Snapit HD’s high-definition image capturing and processing system is used by television broadcasters, weather forecasters, fishing and construction companies, airports, tourism organisations and governments all over the world.

Snapit HD cameras in Lake Rotoiti.
Snapit HD cameras in Lake Rotoiti.

Some are private, but there are also about 30 cameras around the country, including local ones at Farewell Spit, Port Tarakohe in Golden Bay, St Arnaud, and on top of a water tower at Princess Drive.

Paul says the St Arnaud camera, which overlooks Lake Rotoiti, gets the second most views with about 5000 people watching on good days. Those days, however, are usually when it has snowed or the alpine town has experienced some changeable weather.

“But also because the weather can be so different there, people from Nelson want to make sure that it’s looking alright for a visit,” Paul says.

People are also quick to point out whenever there is an issue with the camera.

“It won’t be long before we get people contacting us telling us we need to take a look at it.”

Snapit HD cameras in Princes Drive looking towards Rabbit Island.
Snapit HD cameras in Princes Drive looking towards Rabbit Island.

The Tasman District Council has two cameras looking out over the Richmond Plains. Paul says the camera uses them to check air quality.

It might seem curious that people want to watch the world in real time but the trend is part of a global phenomenon that sees little known cities and towns being subject to close scrutiny.

Jackson Wyoming in the United States recently became an unusual hit for its livestream camera of one of its intersections. The camera reaches thousands of people who tune in each day.

“I think it might be to do with people just wanting to be a part of something and know what’s going on even though they might not be there,” Paul says.

He says that part of what they offer is not just a purpose-built camera but also the ability to watch the fruits of its filming.

“It’s one thing to have a camera but it’s another of how to get the footage from there to a computer,” Paul says.

The company has thousands of terabytes of footage that it has stored over the years. So one day those comings and goings of people and weather might also become part of historical record.