How to make a Scavenger or Treasure Hunt Clue.
Roy Rene Street location

Treasure or Scavenger Hunt – what’s the difference?

Actually not much! Traditionally a Scavenger Hunt is where you go from location to location, picking up items along the way (scavenging) whereas a Treasure Hunt leads you by a series of clues to an end location, where there may or may not be treasure! You’ll find that the terms are mostly used interchangeably from most Urban Hunt trails and games nowadays.

Step 1 – geo-locating your clue.

Use your phone or tablet. Make sure that location services are turned on and that your camera is set to record Exif (Exchangeable Image File Format) information.

Android: Goto Settings > Location > Switch on

iPhone:   How to turn Location Services on or off for specific apps

  1. Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
  2. Make sure that Location Services is on.
  3. Scroll down to find the app.
  4. Tap the app and select an option: While Using the App:

Step 2 – find the location for the clue.
Roy Rene Street location

Hindley Street location, Adelaide

Now that your phone can take pictures with geo-locating co-ordinates, you can head off on your path to make some clues. Go to a point where there is a landmark, statue, building or some object that is on your Scavenger hunt path.

For this example, we’re in Hindley Street in Adelaide, South Australia. Near the corner of Hindley and Leigh Streets, is a bronze statue of a very famous Adelaide identity and comedian, born in 1891 in Hindley Street.


Step 3 – take a photo to get the co-ordinates of the clue.
Photo 1 – overview
Exif Data

Exif Data

You need to locate the place of the clue, so you can mark it on a map, describe the street location or otherwise let your players know where it

is. To do that, take a photo, near the object of the overview and area, so you will remember the location and placing in the future. Include any street signs or corners, so you can accurately place the location later.

DO NOT assume you will remember either where the clue or its location is – once you have setup a number of these clues, they will all run into each other, so every clue needs to be properly documented, so you will be able to look up the details in the future.


Step 4 – more photos to document the clue and potential answers.
Mo Rene Statue

Mo Rene Statue

Take photos of the actual clue, including and distinguishing features, plaques, engravings (sculptors name and date are typically inscribed on the sculpture and the more information you can get about the object, the more questions you can ask.





Step 5 – document the clue.

Start Writing down your clue data – this is so you can give your players the best possible experience, by leading them to the clue, or using the location details to make it cryptic for them.

  • What street is it in – Hindley Street
  • What is the nearest corner – Leigh Street
  • What is the name of the clue – Mo Rene Statue
  • Any other details about the site that are relevant.

Note here: it is important that you think about accessability to the clue. Is it available at all hours of the day? Do players need to go inside any premises? Does the area have gates? Does the area have opening and closing hours – eg. Botanical Gardens, Museums and Parks?

Think about when and how your players are going to interact with this clue and make sure you have all the options covered.

Step 6 – how complicated do you want to make it?
Questions and location directions:

Getting the location information for the clue and deciphering the questions can be a simple as being told where the location is – “Near the corner of Hindley and Leigh Streets is a bronze statue” and once you are there, finding some detail on the object and answering that question.

Or, you can make the questions or location choices cryptic, by using the following techniques:

  1. Rebus Puzzles – a rebus puzzle is one that uses pictures to make up a sentence or phrase – find out more here:
  2. Secret codes, using numbers to represent letters and to build up phrases using a sequence of numbers. These can be simple using the 1 to 26 to signify the letters of the English alphabet, or more complex, using phone keypad numbers (groups of three), giving more options for words and mistakes.
  3. Wordsearch clues, where to find the word or phrase in a grid of seemingly random letters, you need to remove all the letters according to a set of rules, until you are left with the phrase or word that is required.
  4. Using cryptic Rhymes. If you or your players are used to Cryptic Crossword puzzles, then rhymes shouldn’t be a problem. Here’s a site that might help with ideas:

We’re sure that by now your ideas are flying along. Just in case – here’s a few more options that you can play with:

  • Fill-in-the-Blank Clues
  • Mirror Clues
  • Picture Clues
  • Online Clues
  • Maze Clues
  • Word Search Clues
  • Treasure Map Clues

And you’ll find more detail on some of these here:

Step 7 – Question and answer time!

Finally you can start writing down your questions and answers. There are as many ideas here as there are people who will play your game. If your game only need one question and answer then it’s simple.

The Global Game and CitiTrail’s engine uses a database and can deliver as many clues as desired, this is especially useful if (Like us) you’re expecting a number of people to be playing the game at the same time. Our system will randomise the available questions and deliver different ones to each player.

So some question about our bronze man, Mr. Roy “Mo” Rene could be:

    1. Location lead: In Hindley Street, near the corner of Leigh Street is a Bronze Statue.
      Q1: What is the name of the person sculpted?
      A1: Roy Rene
    2. Location lead: In Hindley Street, near the corner of Leigh Street is a Bronze Statue.
      Q2. What sort of a tie is he wearing?
      A2: Bow
    3. Location lead: In Hindley Street, near the corner of Leigh Street is a Bronze Statue.
      Q3. What year did the man die?
      A3: 1954
    4. Location lead: In Hindley Street, near the corner of Leigh Street is a Bronze Statue.
      Q4. What is one of the sayings that the man is famous for?
      A4: Strike me Lucky

    Finally, label the clue – what is the clue style: art, historical, tourist, café, pub, child-friendly, adult only etc.

    And there you have it, how to make and document clues for a Treasure or Scavenger Hunt. Now you just need to work out the way to get you game sorted into a continuous path and then how you get the location of the next clue to each player.

    The last piece of the puzzle, is how you monitor the answers and when correct, how do your players get the next location lead.

  1. We’ll do another piece in the future with a number of options for this, for now, get creative and please leave comments, so we can see how we did here!


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