BootsnAll Travel Network

The Puzzling World of Wanaka

Nov 1-2

After leaving the west coast, we drove cross-country through the Southern Alps toward Queenstown, the adrenaline capital of New Zealand. As we drove, Claude had to stop to take a picture of the sheep grazing in the fields with the mountains in the background – the quintessential New Zealand photo.

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This area also reminded us very much of the Canadian Rockies we had just visited this summer. We also managed to take some beautiful photos of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea in the afternoon light.

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We ended our day about an hour from Queenstown in the town of Wanaka (pronounce it Wanaka, not Wanaka, or you’ll get laughed at). We stayed in an interesting hostel called Wanaka Backpacka where their theme appeared to be shoes, which were used to decorate the whole place – they even had plants growing out of boots in the garden. The kids loved it because they actually had toys and games for kids.

Before heading to Queenstown the next morning, we stopped to feed the ducks in the park by Lake Wanaka

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and took the kids to Puzzling World, a local attraction, for a few hours. The kids had spotted the “Leaning Tower of Wanaka” at Puzzling World when we drove into town and begged nonstop until we agreed to take them there.

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Forget the kids; I wanted to spend the whole day there. Before you even get past the lobby, they have hundreds of brain teaser puzzles that can keep you in knots all day. Inside, there is a 3D hall of faces, a tilted house and a hologram gallery. Even the bathrooms were an optical illusion.

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There is also a room that demonstrates the optical illusion that was used to film the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings. The illusion is created by varying the size of the windows, doors and even the squares on the floor. If you stand on one side of the room, you look 10 feet tall and on the other side you look 3 feet tall. It was amazing and hilarious to try it out.

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The highlight of the place, though, is the massive outdoor maze which surrounds the place. To successfully complete the maze you must find all four towers at the corners of the maze and then find the exit. According to the signs, it takes anywhere from ½ hour to 2 hours to complete and the average person walks 5km doing it. Claude opted out and waited outside while the kids and I gave it a whirl. Simon’s interest flagged after the second tower and he made for the “cheater’s exit,” but Alexa and I hung in and completed the whole thing in only 36 minutes. The hardest part was finding our way out after the last tower, but we persevered and emerged triumphant. After Claude threatened me with a timeout, I finally agreed to leave and reluctantly dragged my heels to the car so we could head for boring old Queenstown.

To see the rest of our photos of the South Island, visit our web album.

New Zealand (South Island)

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