World famous in NZ: Puzzling World, Wanaka
Puzzling World, in Wanaka, is sure to mess with your head,
WHERE/WHAT IS IT?
Just outside the town of Wanaka, this attraction's best-known feature is the world-first outdoor 3D Maze with towers, overbridges and underpasses to add to the challenge — but inside is where it really messes with your head. Optical illusions of every kind distort your perception and appear to defy gravity, physics and common sense.
Where else can you sit on a seat and slide uphill? Or put your child in the corner of a room where she looks taller than you? Or stand at 45 degrees on a flight of steps without falling over? There are holograms, puzzles and illusions of every kind. A ball rolls up a slope, a wall of famous faces follows your movements, a giant tap floats in mid-air, a tower balances on one corner, tops spin endlessly, a bunch of bananas hangs in front of your face but can't be touched… Science, art and sheer mischief make an entertaining (and slyly educational) combination. Even the cafe has puzzles on the tables to play with while you relax — the staff are happy to help with any you find insoluble. And the final mystery? Happy hours pass by here, in minutes.
People prone to dizziness might want to forgo the Tilted House — but make sure to go to the loo: the illusions continue into the smallest room, guaranteeing the most fun (and thrills) you've ever had while answering the call of nature. And if you're psychic, you could win $100,000 by finding the hidden prize.
ON THE WAY/NEAR BY
Further along is the Transport and Toy Museum — something for everyone here, from teaspoons to a tank, Barbie dolls to a bi-plane. Fifty years of collecting, all mixed in together, it's perfect rainy day fun. Next door is Warbirds and Wheels Museum, with gorgeous and rare classic cars and vintage aircraft, lots of flying ace stories, and even a perfect pie in their 1950s diner. Settle into a red leather recliner at Ruby's Cinema for a taste of Hollywood's heyday, all sophistication, elegance and drinks at your seat while you enjoy an arthouse movie or latest release. Grab an Italian-made Otago cherry sorbet from Black Peak Gelato, or an Oompa Loompa craft beer from Wanaka Beerworks to enhance your appreciation of that beautiful lake. Wander round the Thursday afternoon Farmer's Market for crafts and produce proudly presented by passionate people (get in early for the custard squares). And then take a wander along the shore to the world's most famous willow tree, take your place in the queue for the perfect angle, and see if you can get the definitive Instagram shot of #thatwanakatree.
Puzzling World combo passes for the maze plus illusion rooms are $20 for adults, $14 for children, $61 for a family of four. Open every day from 8.30am. See www.puzzlingworld.co.nz
BEST TIME TO GO
Get there early to beat the rush — this place appeals to everyone, and can get crowded.