Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Crater caching

Have you ever heard of Geocaching? I had come across the term years ago, but never really thought about it. Then a friend mentioned a couple of time that she had taken her boys out geocaching... and then eventually (a bit slow off the mark) I decided to find out what it's all about!

I won't go into all the details, there is a much better explanation than I could ever give on the link above, but basically geocachers have hidden little containers ALL over the world, and you have to hunt them out, using GPS co-ordinates, some stealth, some puzzling, and sometimes a bit of scrambling too.

 This is a screenshot of the Geocaching map of One Tree Hill Domain / Cornwall Park - 
 Each little symbol is the rough location of a cache. As you can see, there are 16 of them, just in that one little patch of Auckland! The smiley faces are ones we've already found :-)

We were visiting Greenlane Hospital again, so took the opportunity to pop next door to the park, and hunt out some caches!

We found a tree that you could climb right through the roots of - 

We climbed up the side of the western crater

(that's our 7 seater car down there!)

Paused to rest our (ok, my) legs at the top of the ridge,

then descended into the central crater, where evidently it's a 'thing' to create pictures and words out of the volcanic rocks that litter the grassy crater floor -

You can see the long U-shaped western crater and kidney-bean shaped central crater really nicely in Google Maps - 

Then we trekked back to the car...

Before a quick run up to the top-

Then into Stardome!

So it was a pretty fun morning out, and one of the reasons I think geocaching is great for kids is that it really gets you exploring in-depth in places that you might never otherwise get round to visiting, or possibly not even be aware of! Despite using a GPS (or in our case a GPS capable phone + the c:geo app, and apparently there are some brave souls who are GPS-free cachers!) it's a good introduction to distance, cardinal points, and co-ordinates, and you often have to solve a puzzle to get the real co-ordinates, or follow a clue to find the actual cache. In fact, I've just solved one of the One Tree Hill puzzle caches by using the Arecibo numbers! Now we just have to go see if I got it right....

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