Jordan and I have been together for 5 years. What started as a friendship in our MBA group quickly blossomed into a chemistry that we both just couldn’t ignore. We’ve shared so many adventures together along the way and have grown as couple through that journey.
When it comes to marriage Jordan and I have talked about it and always knew it was in the cards for us but were never in a rush to head down the aisle. Anyone who knows Jordan knows he doesn’t usually like to follow societal norms. He likes to do things on his terms and when it comes to getting engaged – I didn’t expect anything less.
So when we were on holidays in Queenstown for a long weekend in October and had just reached the summit of Ben Lomond, I had absolutely no idea the journey that was about to begin that would span 3 months, 5 locations and 16 treasure boxes around New Zealand! Here’s the trailer for the Adventure Proposal series coming soon!
The Adventure Begins
After a few minutes sitting at the summit, Jordan said “Hey – is that a puzzle box?” I hadn’t even noticed it sitting there on the sun-dial, but as he tried to coax me into opening it, for some reason I thought “I don’t think we should touch this”. Summits are pretty sacred in New Zealand so I thought it might have been some kind of ‘offering’ – it just gave me a weird feeling! After some back and forth Jordan finally convinced me to open it although he couldn’t believe I wasn’t curious to see what was inside.
As I fumbled trying to open the puzzle box, I finally unlocked it and found a note inside on a tarnished piece of paper – similar to what an old treasure map would be made of. It read “You’re close” so I continued to look for the next secret compartment which revealed a small key and another note that said “Look Further”.
At this point I was convinced it was one of those Geocaching treasures that people hide for others to find. I began looking around and sure enough a small treasure chest sat on a rock in the distance so I ran down to open it! Inside was another tarnished note that read:
Jenna, you’re the only treasure I need in my life, now let’s go find yours
It was at that moment I thought “OMG! OMG! It’s happening! It’s happening” (me thinking it was a proposal)
Inside the tiny treasure chest was another small key and another note. As I unravelled it, it revealed a map of New Zealand with a series of points marked on it with the words:
Middle Earth – The search for the Ring. Complete these challenges to reveal the Ring
A bit shocked and confused, I initially thought the treasure hunt was going to continue that day, but after a few confusing minutes, Jordan let me in on the plan that this was a journey for us to complete together over the next few weeks/months. Each location represented a life motto that he felt we embodied and should continue to embody for the rest of our lives. At each point there would be a challenge/activity for us to complete and over the next 3 months we would embark on the most epic adventure proposal that would take us all over New Zealand!
Ignore the Rules
It was about 6 weeks before the next treasure box would appear (my fault for over planning our weekends way too far in advance). On a sunny Saturday morning just as we were about to go out, I found a treasure box sitting outside our front door with the note:
Don’t worry about the rules. Don’t worry what people think. If it seems like a good idea it probably is…
Play a game of golf with mandarin oranges!
I have no idea where he gets these ideas but they sure are fun! Since golf is a sport with some of the strictest rules, it was the perfect setting to do something a bit ‘bad’ and ignore those rules.
We spent the day running around picking up golf clubs he bought on TradeMe, dumpster diving for a putter (as one of the sets was missing one) and picking out an array of circular fruit and vegetables that would make for a good golf ball replacement!
The next morning we arrived at a small local club and were expecting it to be empty at 7am on a Sunday. As luck would have it was CLUB DAY so there was a few dozen very passionate club members all over the course! That made the challenge even more difficult as we had to find a hole that was secluded enough from sight that we could put our frozen fruit and veggies to the test! Finally on hole 8 we got a small window of opportunity and one by one we took turns smashing them off the tee! Surprisingly enough, frozen peeled radishes work just like a golf ball! (Don’t worry we made sure to clean up our mess before anyone saw)
On the last hole a green treasure box appeared on the final green and inside read a beautiful message from Jordan:
Master your Fears
The next box appeared in the most unlikely place – the bathroom! When I opened the box on an early Friday morning the note read:
Master your fear by lead climbing Terror Incognito
My heart skipped a beat for a split second as I envisioned the terrifying 25m grade 18 sport climb at Froggat crag in Wharepapa South that we had visited during our Summer Rock climbing course. The name was well suited as it was a pretty intense climb and one I never really thought I’d tackle lead climbing.
Jordan had organized us to head up north with our friend Jade for some rock climbing with the sole purpose of me conquering my fears. The challenge weighed on my mind for the next 24hrs as I mentally prepared myself for the climb.
After a fairly disastrous first lead climb (Jordan had to rescue me from the top), I decided to say f*ck it – let’s just do this! It’s now or never before I talk myself out of it! The start of the climb was actually the most challenging and it took me nearly 20 minutes to even get on the rock as it was a difficult boulder challenge up. For the next hour I stayed laser focused on completing my mission. With the encouragement from Jade and Jordan I successfully made it to the top and felt so proud of myself for doing it!
On my abseil down there was a yellow treasure box waiting for me at the bottom which read:
Never Grow Up
On a quiet Tuesday night while eating dinner, Jordan asked me to grab him a glass of milk and as I opened the fridge I was surprised to find a little treasure box inside! The note read:
Find your way to Skyline Luge at 9am on Saturday and remember: NEVER GROW UP!
It was going to be a weekend of feeling like a kid! Friday night we drove up to Rotorua and met up with my friend Maggie (she stared in Devin Super Tramp’s Drift Trike and Luge videos) and two friends for some epic luge races down the track! No matter how many times we have done this in New Zealand, one run is NEVER enough!
On my way down the gondola I found another puzzle box (which I seriously couldn’t figure out how to open! Some engineer I am…) It read:
Your afternoon will combine three of New Zealand’s coolest inventions.
Make your way to Papamoa and don’t forget to pick-up a ZORB on the way!
Jordan had convinced the guys at Zorb Rotorua to let us borrow one of their giant Zorbs for the weekend! As we drove to pick it up I wondered to myself “How the heck are we going to fit it inside this tiny car??”
Luckily they had sucked as much air out of it as possible (and now the mystery as to why there was a leaf blower in our car was solved) so we managed to pack it in there with the rest of our stuff with just enough room to fit in one of the wearable Zorbs too! We headed off to Blokart Recreation Park and had the most epic battle of New Zealand’s greatest inventions – the zorb, drift trike and blokart!! It was soooooo much fun!!
As if that wasn’t enough for a one weekend, another treasure box appeared that read:
The adventure would not be complete without a visit to New Zealand’s greatest ride of all!
Make your way to this natural wonder for a surprise!
OMG we were going back to Rere Rockslide!!! This was seriously our favorite spots in New Zealand and the thought of rolling inside the Zorb down that rockslide was both exciting and a little terrifying!!
We arrived early morning in hopes of being the only ones there and were lucky the parking lot was empty. We inflated the Zorb, rolled it down to the river and did ‘Rock Paper Scissors’ for who would go first. I ‘lost’ that battle and took a deep breath before crawling inside. For precaution, Jordan had a knife handy just incase the Zorb burst on the rocks and I needed a quick escape before it sunk to the bottom of the pool below. As I rolled the Zorb to the top of the rockslide I took one last deep breath and pushed myself over the edge!
I whirled and flopped inside the Zorb, laughing so hard my sides began to hurt. At the bottom I made a giant splash and was relieved the Zorb was in tact. Knowing I was safe, I began running inside, making myself look like a hamster in a wheel as it spun in circles in the same spot. I must have played in that pool for 10 minutes before I decided I better let Jordan have a go. After a few runs we deflated the giant ball (which took much longer than expected), packed up the car and just as we pulled away I spotted another treasure box on the ground with the note:
The Best Things in Life are Free
On the morning of Christmas eve as we were packing up for our 2.5 week South Island trip, Jordan and I exchanged stockings and at the bottom of mine I found a treasure box that read:
In a world where you can buy almost anything it is easy to forget that the best things in life are free
Let’s go diving in the ocean to catch and cook ourselves a seafood feast!
We had been wanting to learn how to catch Paua and Crayfish since we arrived in New Zealand so Jordan arranged for us to go on a snorkeling tour in Kaikoura where we would learn how to catch, clean and cook up a seafood feast for ourselves! With our newly found fishing skills, we decided to put them to the test during a weekend in Castlepoint.
With some local insight we went diving along the coast and found the Paua supermarket of the sea! Jordan even caught a crayfish but he was just a bit too small so had to put him back. At one point while searching for more Jordan yelled “I found another crayfish, I want you to go check it out so you can see what to look for!”. The visibility was getting pretty bad so I had to dive down deep to see the bottom. As I was searching around for an orange crayfish body I was shocked to see a treasure box sitting on the bottom of the sea!
I grabbed it and rushed to the surface, laughing out loud at how on earth did he plant that without me seeing AND not lose it! Once on shore, I opened the box with my key (removed the rocks he had used to sink the box) and read the note:
Always Push Yourself
You’d think at this point I shouldn’t be surprised but Jordan would still get me every time. On a Tuesday night he asked me to grab the mail on my way up to the apartment and when I opened the letter box a treasure box appeared! Inside was a map that said:
You have only one adventure left to find the treasure.
Make your way west on the beach. X marks the spot.
Despite the impeding rain, I ran outside and began searching Lyall Bay beach for the illusive X. A few minutes later an X marked by red rocks came into sight and I started digging for the treasure. A couple of feet down I felt the hardness of a box and when I pulled it out and opened it the clue read:
It’s easy to dismiss something as beyond our abilities. That’s why I hope we continue to push ourselves and each other to do more, and break down our perceived limitations of what is possible.
Go surfing in conditions you might think may be beyond your abilities and catch the ride of your life!
That weekend we were off to Castlepoint with our friends Jade and Michael for a surf filled weekend! I had honed my skills on the shores in Lyall Bay but haven’t ventured outside the city to test those skills in new waters. With our campsite right on the beach it was the perfect spot to catch some waves, and with the size of the swell and wind picking up it was definitely outside my normal comfort zone.
I paddled through the intense, crashing waves to meet Jordan in ‘the calm zone’. It was a triumph just to do that, so I was pretty happy with myself, but after surviving my scariest moment yet surfing (getting pulled under for much longer than my breath was) I managed to catch one of my best rides yet! It was a nice long ride that just kept on going and I even worked the board in a few directions to keep on the wave. While I was happy with my first session, with two more days left in the long weekend I thought for sure I had more to prove before the next treasure box would appear.
That night while I was tending to the BBQ, Jade came running up from the beach yelling “Jenna! You gotta check this out, there’s a guy surfing with his dog on his board!” Curious, I ran down with her towards the beach, searching the water for this apparent surfer and his talented dog, but as I approached the beach I saw a treasure box sitting on the sand.
HOLY SHIT – It’s happening now?? All I could think was why am I wearing these old clothes? I could have at least put on some make-up! Geez Jenna you should have assumed it could happen at any point!!
As I walked down to pick-up the box, I sheepishly said “Ummm I have to go get my key”. Again, after 15 boxes by now you’d think I would keep these keys on a necklace or something! Hoping I hadn’t ruined the ‘big moment’ I ran back to the car and opened the box which read:
Ok – it’s DEFINITELY happening now!
I headed back down to the beach, searching for whatever I thought could be a ‘symbol of our love’. Having no idea what that could be I nearly rifled through some woman’s bag, but luckily Jordan stopped me before I made a fool of myself!
Just down the beach I found a heart carved out in the sand with “J + J” written inside. I dropped to my knees and began digging for my ‘treasure’ and found the most beautiful treasure box yet sitting at the bottom. As I stood up, hands covered in wet said I said to myself “Should I wash it off? Maybe at least my hands?” After opening my last treasure box, I found a white ring box sitting inside. My heart began to flutter as I handed it to Jordan and said “Can you take it out, my hands are so dirty!” (I don’t think Jordan thought about how my dirty hands might make it hard to put a ring on a finger!)
As he pulled the ring out of the box and got down on one knee there on the beach I was smiling from ear to ear (and frantically rubbing my hands on my jeans trying to get off the sand!) This is the moment girls dream of – the man they love down on one knee asking them to be together forever…it couldn’t have been more perfect!
It was all such a blur so I can’t remember his exact words, but I do know I said an enthusiastic YES and celebrated with our friends Jade and Michael with champagne and a moonlit hike up Castle Rock. What a perfect ending to the most amazing adventure proposal!
A Special Thank-you
Thank you to Jordan for the love, planning and effort that went into pulling off this epic adventure proposal! Thank you for the beautiful notes you hand crafted at night while I slept being none the wiser. Thank you for the adventures we had along the way together and pushing me to step outside my comfort zone. Thank you for the beautiful ring you designed that couldn’t be more perfect and a fitting representation of our relationship! Thank you for putting up with me along this journey. It wasn’t always easy knowing (roughly) the steps between me and the ‘treasure’ (but not knowing when or how) – your patience did not go unnoticed. And thank you for being the man you are – strong, smart, sweet and always up for an adventure. While this journey started at the top of a mountain in Queenstown and ended 3 months later on the beach in Castlepoint, I am most excited about what lies ahead and the many more adventures together to come 🙂