Treasures lie waiting to be found by GPS
A global hi-tech treasure hunt has many Aucklanders hooked. Reporter Jess Lee spoke to a super sleuth pair about the hidden world of geocaching.
Hidden high in trees, under park benches and buried on beaches.
There is treasure to be found right across Auckland – if you know where to look.
Geocaching is a family-friendly hobby which sees people, known as geocachers, using GPS coordinates to search for cleverly hidden containers called geocaches.
There are more than 2 million waiting to be found throughout the world.
Geocachers often employ sleuth tactics to avoid the containers being discovered by nongeocachers, known as muggles.
It may sound a bit geeky but Treasureseeker88 (not her real username) says that’s part of its charm.
‘‘It’s a lot of fun – it’s like a huge, worldwide treasure hunt with this secret little society of people,’’ she says.
‘‘It’s cool that there’s this community that go hide things for other people and no one knows about it until you get into it.’’
The 25-year-old was introduced to geocaching by her friend Hideandseek24 (not her real username) last year. They will not reveal their names to prevent being uncovered by muggles.
Auckland has more than 400 geocaches within eight kilometres of the city centre.
One Tree Hill and Albert Park are home to some of the most popular geocaches in Auckland.
The fun is found more in the hunt than discovering what is hidden in the cache.
Some contain just a logbook for finders to sign, others hold small trinkets to be traded for something of equal or greater value.
Hideandseek24 says the best cache the pair has found is a tiny vial disguised in a piece of driftwood at Mt Maunganui.
‘‘We walked backwards and forwards over the same patch of beach trying to find the damn thing but it was so well hidden.’’
The 23-year-old took up the hobby last year after stumbling upon a geocaching app.
‘‘I’ve always loved scavenger hunts and the idea of hidden treasure and I have a slight obsession with solving mysteries. ‘‘So the idea appealed to me. ‘‘It just gets you out and about and you also end up in places in your own town that you wouldn’t normally go to,’’ she says.
Two outgoing women in their mid-20s are not exactly what you think of when you picture a ‘‘typical’’ geocacher.
But Eric Schudiske, of Geocaching.com, says there’s no such thing.
More than 6 million people around the world take part, including families with children, photographers, hikers and techgeeks.
‘‘Geocachers have always shared one trait – curiosity,’’ he says. ‘‘There’s something in all our DNA that wants to see what’s around the next corner or across the country.
‘‘Geocaching is the tool people use to power that adventure.’’
Its popularity continues to grow as the website and smartphone apps become easier to use.
‘‘More and more people are channelling into geocaching as a low-cost way to connect with friends, exercise and explore,’’ Schudiske says. ‘‘We’ve seen geocaching grow from just 75 geocaches around the world in 2000 to more than 2.5 million hidden around the world today.’’
New Zealand offers some of the best geocaching in the world, with about 23,000 waiting to be found.
There are physical challenges, including hill and mountain climbs, three or four-day tramps, kayaking or mountainbiking adventures. Some involve mental challenges with puzzles to solve and codes to crack to reveal the location of the cache.
Geocaching gives people a reason to explore the world around them, Schudiske says.
Geocaches come in all different shapes and sizes.
Treasure hunt: Auckland geocacher Treasureseeker88* hunting for geocaches at St Heliers Bay.