Rock-hunting Facebook groups spreading around New Zealand

  • 07/01/2017

People are painting, hiding and finding rocks across New Zealand this summer, as word spreads about the activity through Facebook.

Rock-finding enthusiasts of all ages are encouraged to paint rocks and hide them outdoors for others to find, and the rocks are labelled to connect them back to the group that made them.

Heather Knox started the Facebook group Palmy Rocks after being inspired by an article on a parenting website and the group where it all began, Port Angeles Rocks in Washington.

She started Palmy Rocks with a few people and it soon grew to thousands of members. It's created a sense of community and "gives people in the neighbourhood something to talk about", Ms Knox said.

School holiday programmes, day cares, and elderly care homes have all jumped on board in Palmerston North, and it turns out adults enjoy painting the rocks just as much as kids do.

Palmy Rocks is the biggest rock-finding group in New Zealand with nearly 4,000 members, but groups have popped up all over the country including in Christchurch, Hamilton, Whanganui, Whangamata, Taupō and Wellington.

Many parents paint the rocks at night while their kids are in bed, so that they're ready to go out and hide them the next day while they hunt for more.

It's great for mental health, Ms Knox said, because it encourages people to get creative, get outside, concentrate on something, and have fun with others.

"I've met people I never would have met, from different parts of town," Ms Knox said.

Over in Wellington, Amber Thomas started the Lower Hutt Rocks group after her family discovered the activity while in Whanganui.

Ms Thomas has four sons who found rocks all over town during their stay and "absolutely loved it".

On a rainy day they painted rocks of their own to hide, and once they got back home Ms Thomas started a Facebook group for their area. It already has hundreds of members, and the most popular spot for rock hunting is at Percy's Reserve.

Newshub followed Finn, Ari and Jake Thomas, as well as Xavy and Lachie Freeman-Butler on one of their regular rock hunts in the area.

Ms Thomas said the activity allows kids to explore the natural environment in a new way, finding rocks up trees and then feeling "really amazed".

It's also a cheap and easy activity for parents to do, and it keeps kids occupied for hours. But parents have warned it can be addictive painting the rocks and be difficult letting go of a beautiful rock.

Tips for getting involved with rock-finding:

  • Coat your rocks in clear varnish or use exterior paint to protect the environment.
  • Be careful when sticking anything onto the rocks and ensure items won't come loose.
  • Consider pooling your paint resources, a little paint goes a long way.
  • Label the rocks with your local Facebook group so people can find and join it.
  • If your area doesn't have a Facebook rock group, it's easy to start one up.