NZ Air Force Clips Geocache Wings

A geocache in New Zealand has been removed by New Zealand Air Force personnel after it was deemed to be a security issue for a nearby air base.

Ohakea – Reminiscing (GC256R8) by J ‘N’ K was a small, difficulty 1.5, terrain 1.5 cache located on Pukenui Road just south of the township of Bulls and located near the Ohakea Air Force Base. It’s discovery by Air Force personnel has lead to it’s removal and an email being sent to Groundspeak.

The email, which the archiving reviewer posted on the listing, states:

I am just informing you that on 16 June 2012 I removed a geocache container from a location near Pukenui Road, Ohakea, New Zealand. Because of the proximity of the geocache location to a military Base and also to private land, it was deemed to be in an inappropriate place and was identified as having the potential to cause some security issues. There is no problem with these geocaches being placed on public land but the positioning of the one I found was not ideal.

The cache listing explains the purpose for this special tribute cache.

We have been wanting to place a cache here for some time now as Ohakea shares a special place in our hearts. We both served here in the mid-late seventies. This is where we met, fell in love, married and lived the early part of our married life. Looking back on it now it was a special time and therefore this is a special cache.

A quick look at Google Maps shows that the cache was just across the road from the base, although far from the landing strip. The Street View image below shows the view down Pukenui Road. The cache location is the large tree just left of centre and you can see the barbed wire fences of the Ohakea Base on the right. The landing strip is at the end of the road.

The cache, which was published on 19 March 2010, has had 136 finds and only 1 logged DNF. With the number of finds it is somewhat surprising that it had not been noticed earlier.

Despite the Air Force email noting that proximity to private land was an issue the cache appears to have been on public land…something that they acknowledge in their email is not an issue. And this leads me to wonder about Pukenui Road.

Pukenui Road appears to be a public road and, as you can see from the image above, has a nice wide grass strip. As a public place it should be available for public use. Is this a case of overzealousness by the Royal NZ Air Force?


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  1. Zane Elliott on Facebook

    Curses! As a military chaplain I was hoping to have a few installed near our main training camp, I think the key with this kind of placement is to talk to the camp/base commander, going througha chaplain would be a great way to get permission.

    1. Pete

      … it can even be incorporated into training exercises, AND the D5 cache itself. Imagine having to get a cache where the military could ambush you at any stage! Exciting! 😛

  2. Philip Williams on Facebook

    sad Day for geo caching BUT i am also on the side of thr nzaf ( zane just move a but further away so no risk to all good luck my fello geo friend

  3. Philip Williams on Facebook

    i set 1 up on the levin rail station and after a few run in with the police due to owner was ringing them i spoke to the shop owner and now if open cacher tell then if not open then open season ( try asking just state on the site cacher must tell the sequirity who and what they doing might work )

  4. J 'N' K

    A disappointing outcome for what is a sentimental cache for us. When we placed the cache the new security arrangements were not in place and the road for all intents and purposes and accordingly to all references we could find was a public road. As our cache page showed we spent many years at the base and knew this road well as a quiet public road passing the base’s perimeter. The hide was placed in the first available spot just off Tangimoana Road so as not to be an intrusion on daily life in any way shape or form. We were very surprised to wake this morning to a system generated alert that our cache had been archived because it had been removed by NZDF staff. We think the action is a little over-zealous but if it is now on NZDF property, and therefore in their eyes a risk, then so be it. The cache will most certainly rise again in a suitably adjacent spot, but this time well beyond private property and the clutches of otherwise idle busy bodies.

  5. Pete

    One cache is never worth upsetting adjacent land owners/users even if it is a strictly legal placement within the rules. Keeping neighbours happy is Top Priority.

    I think it reflects an uninformed knee-jerk reaction by the Air Force. Which is a pity.

  6. Kevin aka GenCuster

    Interesting but not surprising. Having found the cache early and knowing the cache owners, I know the story of it well.

    The road was accessible from both ends at time of placement but, since that time, the Ohakea RNZAF Base has extended their security entrance across the main road end (other end from the cache). So now the road is effectively an access road to the Base with no though public traffic (as far as I know). When I found it, the RNZAF were in the process of building the gates.

    While the cache is strictly on public land, I can understand that the RNZAF has noticed activity on the Base perimeter and acted appropriately, as they have every right to. After all, the only reason to go down the road now is to access the Base or locate the Cache.

    I had to read the cache log twice, as the first time I did, my impression was that ‘camocrab’ had uplifted the cache – which was a bit of a giggle – wondering if he was noticed in ‘camo’, skuttling around. 😉 But no…

    It just goes to show that caches, despite being placed according to the guidelines and in good faith, can be affected over time by outside influences and that (in this case) the people who are sworn to uphold our freedom and serve our democratic country have precedence over our hobby (this particular cache). And I congratulate our reviewer, camocrab, for acting responsibly and appropriately.

    Expanding the subject, and not talking about this cache in particular, I would suspect that if an approach was made, a cache would be possible at a site known to the RNZAF (and probably in view of Security Personnel for ‘training purposes’) and that (for the benefit and knowledge of the general geocaching community) is where the power of belong to a lies as they can – and do – act on behalf of geocachers. After all, it is known that having geocaches at places of interest (such as museums, military or otherwise) does increase patronage at those places. Which is also why Groundspeak forbids caches being placed at ‘Commercial’ sites.

  7. Guwapo's Papa

    I thought Aunty Helen had sold the Air Force!!

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