Tracking A Celebrity Geocacher Down Under

Has celebrity geocacher Bernhard Hoecker left his autograph in one of your hides?

When the popular German comedian – and author of a geocaching book – toured New Zealand last month for an interactive tourism campaign, he couldn’t resist signing some local logbooks. “But we had to go to places that the German users voted us to do. So I could only look for caches that were on our way.”

This was Hoecker’s first visit to our shores and, though his itinerary was determined by his fans, he recorded 25 new finds. However, as the funnyman closely guards his GC handle, most of these cache owners will never know of their fleeting brush with fame.

Although It’s Not About The Numbers has promised not to reveal said moniker, we can advise that his tally included two earthcaches, a virtual and numerous terrain level 1.5 or 2 caches.

According to the 41-year-old, there wasn’t much difference between geocaching in New Zealand and at home. “I think it’s the same kind of funny people that do this here and there. Maybe the boxes look less German …”

Joining Hoecker on the trail was his manager Renate Dittmann, who added that they had had a great time in New Zealand. “It’s a wonderful country, where geocaching is a real pleasure.”

The 12-day trip was organised by Tourism New Zealand to encourage Germans to travel Down Under. Hoecker’s homeland is our second-largest European visitor market, with 65,000 of his compatriots playing tourist here last year. Germany also has Europe’s most active geocaching population, so his extra-curricular adventures may offer additional benefits for the tourism agency.

Its “Hoecker discovers New Zealand” promotion featured the award-winning comedian trying holiday activities chosen by his followers on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. More than 6800 votes were submitted, with ideas ranging from doing the haka to baking volcano bread on White Island.

Hoecker says his actual nine-day working gig “started on the North Island: Ninety Mile Beach, Waipoua Forest, Auckland, and Rotorua”. “We took the plane to Blenheim, in the South Island, and drove to Picton and visited the Marlborough Sounds. Then we went on to Kaikoura and Queenstown and Milford Sound. It is so hard to pick a favourite as every place was so unique and offered different things to see and do.”

Among those adventures were a zipline tour of Queenstown’s Skyline Gondola Hill, and delivering mail by boat in the Marlborough Sounds – all of which left him with a very favourable impression of New Zealand.

“New Zealand has a very impressive landscape to see. There are so many different sights in a relatively small area. I was so impressed by the thousand different shades of green New Zealand has to offer. I saw plants and animals I had never seen before or ever heard of.”

In the same week as Hoecker’s visit, Tourism New Zealand launched a similar promotion aimed at the United States market featuring 1980s Brat Prat actor Andrew McCarthy, best known for his work in Pretty In Pink and St Elmo’s Fire.

However, Hoecker says he didn’t get a chance to discuss his favourite hobby with the 48-year-old American. He was far too busy posting videos of his experiences on Tourism New Zealand’s travel website and his own social media channels.

Hoecker took up geocaching in 2005 – “the first was a DNF …” – after reading a magazine article on the subject and recalls talking “about these freaky people to a friend of mine while visiting a castle”. “Later on I was on holiday with another friend of mine and he had a GPS device for driving his quad. And with this we tried geocaching for the first time.”

Now he uses a Garmin Oregon 350 to boost his finds tally, which currently stands at 1499. And as you’d expect from a member of Germany’s level 5 terrain caching fanclub, he has “placed five geocaches on top of some hills in the Austrian Alps”.

Two years on, Hoecker published a book of his geocaching experiences titled Notes Of A Scavenger Hunter (or as Google Translate laughingly calls it Notes Of A Hunter’s Schnitzel), which earned positive reviews and audiences of 500-plus at some publicity events.

When he’s not geocaching or at home with his family in Bonn, Hoecker regularly appears on popular German TV shows Switch, Genial Daneben and Schillerstrasse. Recently he voiced the character of Rumpelstiltskin in the German translation of Shrek Forever After.

*If your German’s up to it, publisher Ro Ro Ro has a free excerpt from Bernhard Hoecker’s Notes Of A Scavenger Hunter on its website.

1 comment

  1. Anne Dahse on Facebook

    I know this comedian, have been following his blog http://www.hoecker-entdeckt-neuseeland.de/

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