Friday, July 1, 2016


During our tour of New Zealand recently, we were fascinated by 'Wanaka's Wonderful World of Weirdness' - Stuart Landsborough's Puzzling World at the small town of Wanaka, an hour's drive from Queenstown.

Stuart Landsborough started this unique concept in 1973 with 'The Maze'; as years progressed, puzzles got added; Illusion Rooms, Roman Toilets and Leaning Tower of Wanaka followed (1999). With Stuart's retirement in 2004, his daughter Heidi and son-in-law Duncan Spear have been spearheading the Puzzling World.

The first thing that caught our eye was 'The Leaning Tower of Wanaka' - tilted almost 45 degrees! We decided to finish a round of the inside and then tackle 'The Maze'.

Our first attraction was 'Tilted House' - we found it difficult to balance ourselves - 
the mirrors and photos showed we were tilting backwards to maintain stability.

And there is this chair which takes you up the slope and leaves you. Contrary to our assumption, the chair doesn't slide down; you have to push it all the way down the slope to return to its original position.

Then you have the 'Hall of Following Faces' where you have a galaxy of world leaders - 
just look at them from wherever you are in the hall and you will find their gaze following you wherever you go! 

'Ambigram' the typographical creation that presents two or more words within the same physical space is superb.

You also have The Aluminium Puzzles - sans joints and welds.

'Ames Room' is really puzzling - to say the least - 
sometimes you see squares, at times you perceive them as rhombus or rectangles. We thought that was it. But there was more to it - 

we realized this when we saw the photo our Tour Manager took with our camera from outside the room through the window instructing us to stand at two far corners of the room.

'Sculptillusion Gallery' bowled us over totally.

Columns or human figures?

Here is water pouring out of the tap in full force more than enough to flood the place but very little overflows / gets collected!

Oscillating Cones .....

Infinity Phone Box

In the above pics, from one angle you see the plain knitted cloth, from another - the great Einstein!

Elephantom Legs - how many legs can you count?

Jungle Jumble - how many animals can your eyes perceive?

Look at the lion which gets stylized with colorful glares as you walk past him ...

The true-to-life uncle who we thought was taking a short break during the rounds ... is in fact a lifeless statue.

And the cut-out of a lady providing us with 3 D experience while talking is simply awesome!

Our Tour Manager had insisted that we take a toilet break and use our cameras inside. And we did.

As we entered, we were in for a shocker and almost turned back. We soon realized that was the Roman Toilets with life-like 
figures doing their business.

As I entered the Ladies' Toilet, I shrank back from one which had barbed wire and spiders on the seat and back! I chose to 

use one of the colorful ones.

After a round of the interesting Gift Shop, we enjoyed hot coffee at the cafe and then marched out to tackle 'The Maze' with renewed vigor. 

We had to reach all four colored huts and then retrace our steps to the entrance. It could take us 30 to 60 minutes or plain frustration! At any point we could take any of the numerous 'Emergency Exit's.

Competitive as I am, I had decided to conquer the Maze but after getting to three huts, I gave up due to the fading daylight. Also we had been informed that the place would shut down at 5.30 pm. So 13 out of the 16 in our group were back in the bus. Three were still working their way through the Maze. One was my husband - I was surprised he was so carried away that we wasn't giving up. We were hoping they'd use one of the Emergency Exits. And thankfully they did - and entered the bus as if nothing had happened. Of course they admitted they couldn't finish all the four!

Though modest-looking and unassuming and seemingly devoid of fanfare, we were informed that this place has been attracting 180,000 plus visitors annually. It is a big hit with everyone due to its uniqueness. Its bizarre buildings, mesmerizing maze, and rooms and exhibits of illusion baffle our brains and challenge our perceptions and we are left rubbing our eyes and rechecking them out! As we drove off, we couldn't help saluting the man behind this novel and interesting Puzzling World - Stuart Landsborough!

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