In time for the epic conclusion to the Hobbit trilogy we’ve updated the Chrome Experiment, “A Journey Through Middle-earth.” Whether you’re a hobbit, wizard or dwarf (oh yeah, humans too) you can now relive all of the epic Middle-earth adventures, from Frodo’s journey to Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring to Bilbo’s final battle in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, in theaters December 17th. This year's Chrome Experiment was developed by North Kingdom in collaboration with Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM).

Your adventure starts on a beautiful, interactive map of Middle-earth where you can explore all 27 locations from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film trilogies. This year’s map is rich with 3D animations highlighting the paths of eight key characters, including Bilbo, Gandalf and Bard.

Completely new for this year’s version is a peer-to-peer battle game where you can challenge your friends to a test of skill. The peer-to-peer gameplay experience was built primarily using the latest web technologies, including WebRTC and WebGL. It’s touch optimized for laptops, phones and tablets, bringing you a stunning interactive experience across all your devices.

Just go to on your laptop, phone or tablet to check out the latest Chrome Experiment, “A Journey through Middle-earth.”

And for those of you who are more interested in geeking out about web development than exploring Middle-earth, check out our technical case study on

What do The Room, The Amazing Spider-man 2, and Six60’s album all have in common?
Kiwis can now use Google Play gift cards to purchase all of them and much more entertainment.

You can find NZD $20, $30, $50 Google Play gift cards at JB HiFi, The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationery, and Countdown stores. They will make great birthday or Christmas gifts to let the ones you love purchase their favourite songs, movies, books, apps, games, and magazines as well as in-app goods.

You find stores to buy cards here and can redeem gift cards cards here.

Posted by Shane Treeves, Consumer Communications, Google New Zealand

Cross-posted from the Google for Work blog. Today’s guest blogger is James Stuart, Office Manager for Blue Carrot Catering, a catering company in Wellington, New Zealand.

One of the key ingredients to a successful event is that your food and drink are served on time (nothing fizzles out a cocktail party like an empty glass!). At Blue Carrot Catering, our job is to not only make mouth-watering food for all occasions, but to make sure that it gets to people where and when they need it. We’re one of the biggest corporate catering companies in Wellington, making 60 deliveries each day to everything from weddings and birthday parties (and occasionally serving canapes at the zoo). Getting all these tasty treats laid out on trestle tables and perched on cake stands around the city not takes both a team expert chefs and a team of Greg Murphys.

Until recently though, we relied on a manual, time-consuming and inefficient means of getting food delivered to the right place at the right time. We used to give each of our drivers a piece of paper at the beginning of the day with a schedule and list of drop-off locations. This became quite a hassle if anything changed along the way. If a client’s address was different to the one listed, the delivery time or order changed, or the driver got stuck in traffic, we’d have to jump on the blower and let the customer or driver know what was going on. It was inefficient, to say the least, and made it hard to give customers exact arrival times for their food.

To help us get a more accurate picture of where drivers are and make it easier to update information about deliveries on the fly, we started using Google Maps Coordinate. Maps Coordinate helps us manage our drivers and the way we schedule deliveries by plotting drivers on a map and making it easy to update jobs and see driver locations in real time.

Now, instead of having a piece of paper with a list of the day’s deliveries, drivers have everything they need on their handset — from the route for their deliveries plotted out on a map, to a list of the day’s jobs. If a delivery address changes we can update drivers automatically, and if a customer calls to see where their delivery is, we can jump online and see exactly where it is and let them know if the driver is two blocks down the road, or two kilometres away stuck in a traffic jam. Maps Coordinate also integrates with our email and calendar system, Google Apps so we can plan and manage things like menus and rosters in a more integrated way.

At Blue Carrot we pride ourselves on attention to detail and this includes being able to offer punctual and reliable deliveries. Since making the move to Maps Coordinate over a year ago we’ve not only been able to give our customers more accurate estimations of our delivery times, but we’ve been able to track the status of all our orders and benchmark our delivery times so our overall service is now better.

Posted by James Stuart, Office Manager, Blue Carrot Catering

Each election, more and more New Zealanders use the web to search for news and information about the big political issues, parties and leaders. This year, to make it easier to find political information from across the web, we’ve launched a dedicated YouTube channel which brings together video content from official party channels, all in one place.

Video will be updated daily as the campaign continues to progress. Check it out now at

We’ve also had a look at what voters around the country are searching for on Google. We compared searches for key issues, and the results revealed that:
  • Health was by far the most searched-for issue since the beginning of 2014
  • Transport and education came second and third, followed by employment
  • Dunedin had the highest search interest in health
  • Invercargill had the highest interest in the environment
  • Auckland had the highest interest in child poverty

Posted by Ross Young, New Zealand Public Policy Manager


Cross-posted from the Google for Work blog

Work is where you spend a lot of your time. So we’ve always believed that it should be meaningful—not a daily grind, done in isolation on an old desktop in a sea of cubicles. Even more, we believe that technology should make work better. It should make it easy not just to get things done, but to get things done with people who inspire you, at the times and in the places where you work best, and in a way that lets you make an impact, no matter what your job is, or what industry you’re in.

Ten years ago, we started bringing Google’s consumer technology—along with the features, controls and services businesses need—to work. We first brought search and then Gmail to businesses. Today we also offer the scale and reliability of Google’s infrastructure to developers with Google Maps and Google Cloud Platform, and have extended into hardware with Android and Chromebooks. Along the way we’ve invested in what matters to our customers and partners—security, transparency, compliance and customer support. And our team, the breadth of our offerings, and our commitment to business customers have all increased substantially.

Work today is very different from 10 years ago. Cloud computing, once a new idea, is abundantly available, and collaboration is possible across offices, cities, countries and continents. Ideas can go from prototype to development to launch in a matter of days. Working from a computer, tablet or phone is no longer just a trend—it’s a reality. And millions of companies, large and small, have turned to Google’s products to help them launch, build and transform their businesses, and help their employees work the way they live. In other words, work is already better than it used to be.

But technology for the workplace isn't just about a better way of doing business. It's about empowering anyone, whether they're a developer with an idea in their basement or a baker with a better cupcake or a company with thousands of employees, to have an impact. We never set out to create a traditional “enterprise” business—we wanted to create a new way of doing work. So the time has come for our name to catch up with our ambition. As of today, what was called Google Enterprise is now, simply, Google for Work. When we use the tools that make our lives easier—Google Apps, Maps, Search, Chrome, Android, Cloud Platform and more—work gets better. And that’s what we’re working on—the best of Google, now for work.

Posted by Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman

For most Kiwi charities, the web is becoming a vital platform for improving visibility, raising awareness, and connecting with donors and volunteers. The big challenge, though, is how to make the most of this technology when there are so many competing demands for funding and resources.

That’s why we’re so pleased to be making Google for Nonprofits available here in New Zealand, in partnership with Tech Soup NZ. As we announced last night in Auckland at an event at the Mental Health Foundation, eligible community and voluntary organisations in NZ will now have free access to online marketing and technology from Google worth more than $120,000 each a year.

What’s in the package? Eligible charities will receive:

  • Up to USD $10,000 of Google AdWords each month, so they can get their site in front of people who are searching for services like theirs.
  • Free use of Google Apps, so they can run their email and important documents in the cloud and work collaboratively on documents while dramatically reducing IT costs
  • Google Earth Outreach, a free license for the pro version of Google Earth so they can visualize their data in map version online
  • YouTube for Nonprofits, so they can make great campaigns that catch the eye of donors and supporters

We want Kiwi charities to be as connected and collaborative as possible, so they can continue to do their great work changing the world. With Google for Nonprofits, they can have the same web tools as much larger, better resourced organisations, so they can do their great work more easily.

Three months ago, NetSafe and Google invited Kiwi teenagers to become New Zealand’s first ever Web Rangers. Since then, we’ve held workshops in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, where teens learned about safer and smarter Internet use, and how to spread the word creatively on the Internet.

We received close to 50 campaign submissions from across the country — all of them involving lots of effort and many amazing ideas. We’re inspired by the way teens manage their lives online, and how they’re sharing these messages with their friends and communities.

We’re now pleased to announce our winners from each city, including runners-up. They’ve won some fantastic prizes, including a trip to Sydney to present their campaigns to the team at Google ANZ HQ.

Auckland: Hayley Smith’s Social Experiment - Queen St, Auckland (Anonymous Voice): Hayley came up with the idea of setting up a “social experiment” to illustrate how people might react to having hurtful comments yelled at them on a busy Auckland street. In just two weeks, the video gained over 70,000 views on YouTube. Hayley is a student of Auckland’s Te Kura.

Christchurch: Tip Varnakomala’s Compliment generator and website - Project Positive:
Tip became a Web Ranger after becoming fed up with the negative comments and behaviour on social media. He says he and his friends have experienced insults and bullying behaviour online. Tip decided to build a “compliment machine”, using the programming language javascript, to counter the lack of positive comments online. Tip a student of Burnside High School.

Wellington: Angus Slade’s Animation and song - If Life Was Like The Web. 
Reflecting on his personal experience with bullying in the classroom, Angus decided to enter the Web Rangers campaign in a bid to reach out to other victims. Not a fan of “serious” messages, Angus spent more than 100 hours drawing, learning animation and producing a humourous song. Angus is home-schooled.

We’re incredibly proud of all the campaigns everyone submitted and recognise the hard work that went into each one. Creating a safer web for teens is important and we look forward to seeing the impact of your campaigns within your communities.


To find more about Web Rangers NZ and the winning campaigns, visit and you can keep up to date with all the campaigns (or if you’re interested in becoming a Web Ranger yourself) over on our Google+ and Facebook pages.

Posted by Sean Lyons, Chief Technology Officer, NetSafe

Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog.

The workplace is full of files that capture your best ideas or your team’s most productive collaborations. But those files aren’t useful if you’re unable to access or share them effectively. That’s why, just two years ago, we introduced Google Drive. Today more than 190 million people actively use it at home, school and work. Drive keeps all your work safe, and makes it available everywhere and easy to share. Companies around the world like Crate & Barrel, Seagate, Tory Burch, HP and Jaguar Land Rover rely on Drive to work faster and collaborate better with their coworkers and customers.

But we’ve also heard from businesses that they want more control and security, visibility into how files are shared, and a product that will grow with them. So we’ve been working to make Drive even better for business, and today at Google I/O we announced Google Drive for Work — a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls for $10/user/month.

More control, more visibility 
Google Drive for Work combines the familiar storage, sync and share experience of Google Drive with new admin controls, advanced file audit reporting and eDiscovery services. New fine-grained controls let admins customize the Drive experience, such as which employees can install the desktop sync client. With the new audit view you can see activity like moving, deleting or sharing a file within or outside the company, and an audit API will also be available for developers. Google Apps Vault, our solution for search and discovery for compliance needs, is also included with Drive for Work, expanding to cover all content stored in Drive, including Docs, Sheets and Slides, as well as any other file type.

More than enough space for all your work 
Every year companies create more data than the last, adding megabytes, gigabytes and terabytes. Well, today, we’re taking bytes out of the conversation. For $10/user/month, businesses get unlimited storage for all their employees and can store files up to 5 TB in size (To put that in perspective, no desktop or laptop on the market today even has a hard drive big enough to capture and store a file that size).

More security 
As of today, all files uploaded to Google Drive will be encrypted, not only from your device to Google and in transit between Google data centers, but also at rest on Google servers.

More productivity 
Some of the most common file types stored in Drive are Microsoft Word, Excel® and PowerPoint® files. We’ve now built the power of Quickoffice into Docs, Sheets and Slides, so you can open and edit those documents in their native format using Office Compatibility Mode directly on Android and Chrome browser today, and coming soon to iOS. No need to buy additional software or decide how to open your file. Editing Office files is just a click or tap away from Drive on your computer, tablet or phone.

Ready for your business, available today 
Google Drive for Work includes the benefits and guarantees of Google Apps for Business, like 24x7 phone support and a 99.9% uptime guarantee. You also get access to all of Google’s productivity apps like Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites and Hangouts, so you collaborate in even more ways. Drive for Work also offers enterprise-grade security and compliance, including a SSAE 16 / ISAE 3402 Type II, SOC 2-audit, ISO 27001 certification, adherence to the Safe Harbor Privacy Principles, and can support industry-specific requirements like HIPAA.

Drive for Work is available globally, today. If you’re a current Apps customer you can upgrade from the Admin console to get new features like unlimited storage. If you’re new to using Google at work you can learn more about Google Drive for Work on the web, or contact us for more information.

Posted by: Scott Johnston, Director of Product Management, Google Drive

Learning how to do the perfect smokey eye can be difficult if the YouTube makeup tutorial you’re watching keeps buffering or going fuzzy, which is why we’re always working to make videos play in the best quality possible. If you’re regularly seeing a buffering wheel when you play YouTube videos, it’s important to know why.

Starting today, Kiwis can use the Google Video Quality Report to better understand the video quality available from their Internet service providers.

You can also see the video quality other ISPs in your area are delivering, based on these levels:

  • HD Verified: Users on YouTube HD Verified networks should expect smooth playback most of the time when watching high-definition YouTube videos (720p and above).
  • Standard Definition: Users on networks rated as Standard Definition should expect smooth playback on standard-definition YouTube videos (360p) and may experience occasional interruptions on high-definition YouTube videos (720p and above).
  • Lower Definition: Users on networks rated as Lower Definition may experience fuzzy picture quality and frequent interruptions while playing YouTube videos at 360p and above.

If you’re keen to learn more about how we came up with these classifications, read more here, and learn how videos get from us to you with this video.

You can also help make sure you're getting the best video quality possible with these seven simple steps:

We hope to keep finding better ways to bring you the best video experience possible, and part of that is helping you understand the way YouTube videos play when you watch it today. If the YouTube videos you watch are constantly lagging, we want to help you better understand why.

For the last two years, the kids at Pt England school in Auckland have been using Chromebooks to learn in a more collaborative way. Easy to use, fast and very secure,  Chromebooks have proved a hit in the classroom and have even helped improve learning outcomes. Now with today’s official launch of Chromebooks in New Zealand everyone can get their hands on one.

From watching the latest antics from Jamie on YouTube at home, to listening to Lorde on the go, today we’re all spending more time online. In this increasingly connected world, computing should be fast, secure and hassle-free, so you can access your stuff and get things done from wherever you are. Chromebooks are designed for this world, and since launching a few years back have become the go-to laptop for many people around the world.

Now Kiwis will have a range of Chromebooks to choose from  — the Acer C720, the Acer C720P, the Toshiba Chromebook 13, the HP Chromebook or the HP Chromebook 14. All the Chromebooks are light and portable with a battery that will last the whole day. They also feature Intel’s 4th generation Celeron processor which means they’re nice and zippy. The HP Chromebook 11 comes in variety of colours too, so you can pick one that matches your wardrobe.

If you’ve been looking for a computer that makes it easier to get stuff done, pick up a Chromebook from Dick Smith, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi and Noel Leeming in store or online.

Posted by Annie Baxter, Head of Communications, Google New Zealand