Puzzling World!

Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
Trip End Feb 27, 2006

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I had a one night stopover in sleepy Haast, which I knew would be uneventful, but I enjoyed the relaxation ahead of Wanaka and Queenstown. The hostel had an indoor garden, and so I spent a lot of time in there listening to music and planning which activities I could afford to do in the next week or so. I did venture to the pub for a quick pint, but I looked upon Haast as the calm before the storm...

After a 2 hour journey along the scenic Haast Pass the next day, I was in Wanaka. It seemed like my kind of place, with the town set virtually on the lake, with the Southern Alps as a backdrop. I immediately felt comfortable there, especially as one of the first persons I saw at Wanaka Backpaka was Nathan, the guy who gave me a lift to Gisborne earlier in the year. No surprises there then, considering the number of people I've bumped into again on my travels! However, it also turned out that I was staying in the same room as Miki, one of the Japanese girls from Mount Maunganui - now that was a coincidence!

That evening I was (quite easily) persuaded to go to Shooters Bar for a few beers. Jeff, a young Scottish lad, had come over specifically to ski for a couple of months, and he was a very likeable character. As we arrived at the bar just 10 minutes before Happy Hour ended, we decided to get 2 jugs of beer each to save going back later! Needless to say, I had to help Jeff out at the end of the night as he still had some beer left (these young 'uns!).

I woke up early the next day as the others in my room were all heading to the skifields, but it was fine as I wanted to get out and explore. I did an easy, peaceful 2 hour return walk to Waterfall Creek, which basically followed the beach around Roy's Bay. Wanaka certainly did seem like a picturesque little place, and it reminded me of Picton in terms of its size and setting. I sat down on the beach for a while on the way back, soaking up the sun and watching the children play with the ducks!

On Ali's recommendation, I decided to go to Puzzling World in the afternoon. She said it was a must do, and it certainly appealed to the big kid in me! They claim to have a "world unique theme of puzzling eccentricity," and I must admit I wasn't in the least bit disappointed. The place is divided into 2 main sections: The Illusion Rooms and The Great Maze.

I wandered through the Illusion Rooms first, and there were some amazing sights! The Hologram Hall had lots of impressive 3D hologram photos, and the Hall of Following Faces was bizarre! Mona Lisa's eyes follow you wherever you move, but to have a room full of faces following you is very disturbing! The Tilted House really did freak me out, as water seemed to be flowing uphill, and watching a ball move up a tilted pool table certainly did get me scratching my head. Finally, the Ames Illusion Room, which looked perfectly normal through a window, but when you went inside, you discovered that the ceiling on one side was so much lower than the other. This is how giants and dwarves are created in films, and it was used extensively in Lord of the Rings apparently.

After a quick look in the shop, which stocked every type of puzzle imaginable, I entered the Great Maze. The object was to reach the towers in each corner, then find your way back to the beginning. Well, it did get quite frustrating and I was tempted to throw in the towel on more than one occasion - there are Emergency Exits for the impatient! Actually it probably only took about 20 minutes to find the entrances to the towers, but it must have taken double that to find the start again! I kept bumping into a Chinese couple who were experiencing the same problem. In fact, the guy was looking a bit exasperated! I suppose I didn't help matters when, on completion of the maze, I caught a glimpse of them and shouted "Hurry up!" It was all good fun though.

All that problem solving had left me drained, so I had an early night and did a bit of reading. I was now focusing on my next activity, namely a 12,000 feet skydive!
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