Kate's Puzzling World of Wanaka

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Jan 04, 2012

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Where I stayed
Aspiring holiday park
What I did
National Transport and Toy Museum, Wanaka
Arrowtown Heritage Town

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Sunday, November 27, 2011

Credit for this day shall all go to Kate for she has selected the activities. And to start this blog I will recite some Kate classics from the last couple of nights.

"Urgh..Urgh...How do I get out?!" She exclaimed in marginal panic on awaking half way through the night.
"Open the door" I replied.

"Urgh...Why's it so dark in here?!" She once again spoke (different night) in a state of panic.
"Because it's night" I sighed in a tired reply, barely aware of what was going on.

Right, we have decided to give Milford Sound a miss. It's a combination of so far having drove just over 2000 miles in less than 2 weeks, needing to slow it down a bit, and not really seeing the value of driving a further 5 hours in each direction for a 1 and a half hour cruise. It's a bit of a shame but it means that the south half of the south island has been relatively untouched by us, leaving a possible future visit. the Fjordland is meant to be fantastic, but after 2 weeks of landscape, beautiful landscape - it just won't deliever anywhere near what it could to some fresh eyes that need a break from the city. We've been landscape spoilt.

With that in mind we have a day in which we can explore a little and at the same time have saved a further day from travelling. Productive decision making. Kate had selected a couple of attractions in the Wanaka region to fill our day.

After breakfast in a lay-by by Iron Mountain in which we watched a proverbial flood of New Zealanders (abotu 5 counted) choosing to run the loop around the mountain circuit, we drove through Wanaka twice (wrong directions) to the outskirts of the little town and to a museum adjacent to the little airport.

The odd combination of the National Transport and Toy Museum.

What is there in a transport and toy museum you may ask?

Well, there are toys, there are collectables, there are models, there are cars, there are model cars, there are fluffy toys stuffed in classic cars, there are lego sets made up inside classic trucks. We saw about 20 fire engines, about 2-3 tanks, a couple of airplanes, motorbikes, a mini clubman, an Austin Princess (car of my baby youth), lots of barbie dolls, train sets, loads of star war toys include a line dedicated to Princess Leia and much much more.

Did it feel like a museum or a slightly obsessed collection of bits and pieces in 4 hanger size warehouses?

I would have to err on the side of the obsessed collection. The place is more organised than the toy museum we visited in Penang having in most cases the toys nicely arranged in a modellers world, but it still in places feels a little like a garage awaiting a clearout. The hangers have all sorts of bits not either in the toy or transport category including a small collection of Toby jugs, typewriters, lawnmowers, bottles, bronze statuettes etc.

Did we enjoy it?

Absolutely. Some very kitsch items, some very quirky. Little bits of typefaced paper explained what the cars all were, and where they had come from all with their little stories. The toys were lovingly presented in most places, and the wierdness of having toy collections stuffed inside classic cars was strangely cool. A good hour or two spent.


$12 each.

Kates second choice of the morning was to visit Stuart Landsboroughs Puzzling World. Kate loves puzzles, she has about 5 puzzle books with her though in which none are close to finishing. And so we have carried these books over 30 000km now. The puzzling world should be right up her street. I thought it might be a little childish.

As we walked in I noted two people waving to me from a Kiwi Experience coach just leaving the car park. It was a scottish gentleman and  his missus that I spent ages talking to on our Glacier walk. Lovely bloke - shame we didn't get their details.

Firstly cost is $15 each for a combo ticket to enter the illusions rooms and the giant maze. It is a little pricey for a museum type, but not bad really.
Inside the entrance is loads of little puzzles set up on tables, the sort you would expect to get in your christmas stockings. If I left Kate alone she could spend all day there. That part appears to be free and is kind of an add on to their cafe.

We paid for our tickets though and went straight into the Illusions bit. Brilliant.

Lots of clever hologram pictures, drawings that make you think from an abstract point of view, a room of following faces in which wherever you move the faces appear to watch you (a bit creepy), a room that confuses the senses somewhat and a size based optical illusion. These rooms alone kept us amused for a while, and for the most is perfectly suited to adults - if anything the place seems to be better suited to adults than kids.

Kates love of mazes was then put to the test when we raced around Puzzling Worlds partially split level maze (1.5km of maze). the aim of the challenge was to visit 4 different corners of the maze in order and then to get out of the finish. It's meant to take between an hour to an hour and a half.

I taunted Kate menacingly having been ahead for the whole maze and whenever I crossed above her on the bridges knew I was two corners ahead. With half an hour gone I had found the four corners and resulted in snooping around and reminding Kate I was nearly finished in a kind of nur nur nur nur nur way.

Then I couldn't find the bloody exit. It was a nightmare. I could see it but could not get there. In the way of the tortoise and the hare I then noted Kate had found her fourth corner and was plodding along a little dejected as she was a little annoyed with the complexity of the maze. Having see me nearly finished a long time ago, she thought I must have been done. When she noticed me still running around like a trapped rat I spotted her accelerate quickly.

Stories such as the tortoise and the hare are however a load of rubbish. The hare always wins. 99 times out of 100, if you bet on the horse which is 100-1, you will lose a lot of money. In this case I quickly realised that the end part of the maze takes a long time and therefore it was normal for Kate to get within a glimpse. I then cruelly finished, and had a mini victory dance next to a 4 year old that just didn't have a clue what was going on.

Kate finished eventually and we hit the road for the afternoon. We visited a place near Queenstown called Arrowtown which is a heritage town from the goldrush days. Was a bit of a tourist hot-pot but worth the visit. The little chinese shanty town which housed immigrants which came over to join the rush was quite interesting and the town itself is very nicely presented. Kate and I grabbed a estate agents booklet for amusement of seeing some of the prices. An acre with 3 bedroom detached house and 2 bathrooms for about the price of our 2 bedroom terrace. How irritating.

The drive back into Wanaka was broken by a visit to the worlds first bungee site (not tempted in the slightest but it did look do-able even for a height freak like me) and a difficult drive into the wind and a bit of frantic sniffing as our Campervan had developed a terrific egg like smell. We eventually deduced like Sherlock that we had a bit of a blockage in our waste (sink only) pipe and had to flush it out. It was pretty revolting.

To celebrate the clearing of the pipe we spent a little more on a campervan site which included Wifi at a place called Aspiring Holiday Park. The place includes a spa and sauna (which we used straight away) and is much better than most places we have stopped at if not a little pricier at $42 for the both of us.

Just before dinner a big cat also jumped in and sat on my lap for a while. I kicked it out when it started drooling though.The evening was spent filling an online basket with clothes from JC Penney in the states. Planning to pick up the clothes when we get stateside.

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