Hundreds flock to Auckland for high-tech scavenger hunt

Hundreds flock to Auckland for high-tech scavenger hunt

This coming Labour Weekend, there’ll be hundreds of people in Auckland looking for hidden containers all over the city. If you see them, don’t be worried - it’s all part of a worldwide high-tech scavenger hunt.

Back in May 2000, Bill Clinton authorised the removal of selective availability of GPS for non-military people worldwide (thanks, Bill!). What this means to the world in general is that the GPS devices in our cars and our phones are now as accurate as the ones that were then only accessible to a selected non-civilian elite. Someone decided to test it out by hiding a container somewhere and posting coordinates to that location on an internet forum. Fast forward 13 years and, what started as a bit of a joke turned into a worldwide game played by millions, with its own website.

There are currently over 20,000 of these containers hidden all across New Zealand and it’s highly likely that you went past one on your way into the office this morning. The hiding places range from really obvious inner city locations (these have to be cunning hides so that the “muggles” - people who don’t go geocaching - don’t notice them) to off-the-beaten-path places that involve mountain climbing or canyoning down a river. The hobby continues to gather new participants on a daily basis, as it offers people the thrill of adventure while catering for all levels of fitness.

This Labour Weekend (26 to 28 October), Auckland will host the second ever New Zealand Geocaching Mega Event (the first one took place in Dunedin last year and successfully got hundreds of tourists finding these containers all over the South Island).

About 500 people from all over the country and the world are expected to attend the event which will be based at the North Harbour Convention Centre but include a number of outdoor activities to get people out and about exploring the region, including free guided walks to Atiu Creek, Pararaha Gorge, Rangitoto Island and the Okura Bush. The list of attendees so far includes a large contingent from Australia, as well as tourists from the US, Canada, Sweden, Germany and Denmark, among others.

The programme also includes a seminar on Bush Safety (by the Head of Search and Rescue for the Auckland region), an adventurous night geocaching in the bush, a rogaine, a flashmob and a particular type of event (called CITO - Cache In Trash Out) that involves getting together to clean up a particular location in need of some TLC (one of the ways geocachers try to give back to the community).

The event is not-for-profit and has gathered the attention of a number of local businesses in Auckland that have come on board as sponsors or simply “Friends of the Mega” (an option that requires a $50 contribution towards the costs of running the event, in exchange for a mention on the website).

If you’re keen to discover a hobby that will get you exploring the great outdoors, finding hidden spots you never even knew were there, then head over to www.nzmega.com and register to join in the fun.