Unknown to many of us, and akin to a secret society, a community of people all over the world take part in a modern-day form of treasure hunting called Geocaching.

Using a website or mobile phone app and a GPS system, "cachers" access a map showing the location of hidden "caches" - usually a small container of some description - hidden at various locations around the area.

Example of a geocache in a tree.
Example of a geocache in a tree.

The idea is to use GPS to navigate to the right place and find the cache, which is usually well hidden, logging the time it took in the app, as well as recording the find in the cache itself - usually in some form of logbook inside it.

The app tells users the difficulty level of finding a particular cache as well as that of the terrain around it, along with an approximate size for the item they are looking for.


There are some 3 million caches hidden worldwide, with close to 40,000 of them in New Zealand.

Hidden by experienced geocachers, some caches involve puzzle-solving, others involve learning about something, but all of them get people out and about, into the outdoors and taking part in a fun, healthy hobby, enthusiasts say.

One is Levin local John MacMillan, who has been geocaching for a number of years.

He started the hobby when his son learned about it an school and suggested they try it out together.

MacMillan enjoyed it so much he has kept up the hobby ever since and has taken part in some extreme cache-hunting, including a recent trip with several other enthusiasts to find one at the summit of Mount Taranaki.

Now he is organising a special event in Levin where people can find out about geocaching, try it out or meet other cachers if they already take part in the activity.

"It will be a social gathering with cachers from the greater Wellington region attending," he said.

"Geocaching is a year-round pastime suitable for young or old, for families or on your own, to take up as much or as little time as you want to give it. It gets you out and about, taking you to places you may not have visited before, and offers the opportunity to meet other people from all walks of life."

A geocache hidden in a historical object in a remote NZ location.
A geocache hidden in a historical object in a remote NZ location.

MacMillan said there would be experienced cachers at the Levin event that had clocked up well over 100,000 cache finds between them, and that it was the first geocaching event to be held in the area in more than two years.

Several caches will be hidden around the Adventure Park for people to try out the activity.

The event will be held in Levin Adventure Park on Saturday 6th April from 11am to 1pm. It's free to attend and everyone is welcome.

For more information visit www.geocaching.com or for the Levin event listing visit www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC83REC_creation-celebration-levin-workshop.