Treasure hunt (game)

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Players searching for hidden treasure, buried in sand

A treasure hunt is one of many different types of games for players who try to find hidden objects or places by following a series of clues. Treasure hunt games may be an indoor or outdoor activity. Outdoors it can be played in a garden, indoors it can be played in a specific room, which would make the work of hiding the clues harder.

For children[edit]

Treasure hunts are sometimes organised as a game to be played at children's parties. The game could include searching for items, following clues as a group or splitting into teams to race to a prize. A common game at Easter is the egg hunt, where players search for concealed chocolate eggs.

For adults[edit]

Letterboxing is an outdoor treasure hunt activity that combines elements of orienteering, art and problem-solving, and dates back to the 1850s. Letterboxers hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly accessible places (such as parks or open moorland) and distribute clues to finding the box in printed catalogs, on one of several web sites, or by word of mouth. Individual letterboxes usually contain a logbook and a rubber stamp. In the United Kingdom it is particularly associated with Dartmoor.

The treasure hunt as a party game is attributed to socialite Elsa Maxwell. She said[when?] that "In the Treasure Hunt . . . intellectual men were paired off with great beauties, glamor with talent. In the course of the night's escapades anything could happen."[1]

Treasure trails are a variation on the theme of a treasure hunt in which participants follow a set of directions and discover clues to help solve a puzzle en route. Trails may be on foot or use vehicles, including public transport. They may follow circular routes or be linear.

An "armchair treasure hunt" is an activity that requires solving puzzles or riddles in some easily portable and widely reproduced format (often[citation needed] an illustrated children's book), and then using clues hidden either in the story or in the graphics of the book to find a real treasure somewhere in the physical world. This type of treasure hunt may take months to solve and often has large prizes to be won. An early example of the genre is Kit Williams' 1979 book Masquerade.

In 1956, comedian Jan Murray created and hosted a variation for television, also known as Treasure Hunt. This US game show featured a pair of contestants answering questions to qualify to go on a treasure hunt that involved choosing from among thirty treasure chests that included anything from gag prizes to valuable merchandise and/or cash. The show also offered home viewers a chance of a treasure hunt, when a postcard was chosen from a large drum by a young guest who revolved the drum several times to randomise the entries. The show aired daily in the morning and once a week in the evening until 1959, when the networks began canceling game shows in the wake of the quiz show scandal.

In 2012, the Guinness World Records title for 'most participants in a treasure hunt game' was set by Team London Ambassadors, who broke the previous record (of 308 participants) in London. 466 Participants, all London Ambassadors for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, worked in 93 teams of five, each completing a set of twelve clues hidden on either side of the River Thames, starting and finishing at City Hall, London. The treasure hunt in the form of a spy mission game formed part of World Record London for 2012.[2] A separate points competition was held with one team emerging the winner of the 'treasure'.

Geocaching is an outdoor treasure-hunting game in which the participants use a global positioning system (GPS) receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (called "geocaches" or "caches").

Online treasure hunts involve participants following clues and visit different websites (or even physical locations) to solve riddles. Participants can win prizes for correctly solving puzzles to win treasure hunts. A 2012 hunt organised by eBay had prizes totalling $200,000.[3] Many online hunts are subject to internet gaming laws that vary between jurisdictions.

In a photo treasure hunt, competitors have to collect pictures of targets rather than collecting items.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  • ‹See Tfd›(in French) Simon Juliac, The world of treasure hunts, CreateSpace Amazon LLC, Charleston, 2016 (ISBN 978-2955728802)


  1. ^ Time article Elsa at War retrieved April 10, 2007
  2. ^ "Team London Ambassadors hunt for a world record title" (Press release). Team London Ambassadors. June 25, 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  3. ^ Gilbert, Alorie (February 15, 2005). "eBay to give away $200,000 in online treasure hunt". cnet. Retrieved August 7, 2012.