128 Days on the Road
Illusions, holograms, the weird, the wacky and the wonderful: Today, we are confusing our minds at Puzzling World!
There’s no better way to start the morning than with a puzzle, right? So we don’t waste time driving five minutes away from Wanaka Bakpaka to bright and colourful buildings leaning in all sorts of impossible directions, especially the favourite photo op, the Leaning Tower of Wanaka.
A personal and daily puzzle
The puzzling begins in the Puzzling World car park when we reverse our enormous campervan into a parking spot. Luckily, we crack the puzzle pretty quickly considering there are larger designated campervan parking spots. Or maybe we are just so skilled at parking now. We like to believe the latter…
We enter Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World to tables and tables of people trying to work out puzzles. There are families, backpackers, a Kiwi Experience bus load, old, young, couples… We don’t think we’ve seen a wider range in demographic anywhere else in New Zealand. There is something about weird and wonderful illusions that just draws people in!
Robin vs. four puzzle pieces
Before we can even get our stamps to go into Puzzling World, Robin is already sat at a table working away at a puzzle. Each table has three or four puzzles with a set of instructions on what to do. Robin is trying to make four different specified shapes out of four puzzle pieces.
He’s huffing and puffing, putting the pieces in every combination he believes possible, getting frustrated, and only succeeds to create one out of the four suggested shapes. And it looks like such a simple puzzle!
We’ve lost him, people!
Laura, who has no patience for puzzles but is super keen to see some illusions, finally manages to drag Robin away from his failures. We haven’t even got into the main part of the attraction yet, and Robin has been captivated. We’ve lost him, people! We’ve lost Robin!
Hands’ stamped, we now go into the Puzzling World exhibitions.
The Hologram Hall
First up, the Hologram Hall. As you can imagine, this is a hall of hologram pictures. From the side, the framed image appears to be blank, but standing directly in front with a fair distance between you and the picture, then a 3D image pops out of the frame! There’s us trying to grab a bunch of bananas in front of our face! There are a few creepily realistic pictures that pop out as you walk by, like Marilyn Monroe. (Nothing against you, Marilyn, but in hologram form, you’re giving us the heebie jeebies).
Stumbling through the tilted house
The Hologram Hall leads up to a house that all of a sudden goes uphill. Once we are full inside the house, we feel completely out of balance! A water feature appears to the flowing uphill, a monorail seat takes people from the floor up the ceiling, we take some stairs that make us look like we’re leaning back so far we are going to collapse in a heap on the floor… In short, this is a trippy room!!
We feel drunk as a skunk trying to navigate this room and all its illusions. We finally stumble our way out into the Hall of Following Faces.
A room full of crazy illusions
168 faces of famous people form history follow our every move in the room. Literally, their faces appear to impossibly moving and turning to the side! 3D Marilyn Monroe has nothing on the creepiness of President Lincoln turning his head to look at you.
We’ve been creeped out, we’ve felt like we were tripping, and now our bodies are about to be thrown way out of proportion! Welcome to The Ames Illusion Room.
What it’s like to be big
One side of the room makes anyone standing there look like giants, while the other side of the room appears to make anyone standing their seem tiny! Yet, the room appears to be the exact same size to onlookers standing directly in front. This is hilarious! Finally, Laura is so tall her head is dragging across the ceiling, while the usually tall and lanky Robin can barely touch the ceiling!
Sculptures and illusions
Paintings, pictures, and sculptures of illusion line the hallways between rooms. Kinetic sculptures appear to suspend a mirrored ball in mind air inside a moving coil, water pours out of a giant tap that also appears to be suspended in mid-air, and loads more sculptures intrigue and confuse in the SCULPTiLLUSION Gallery.
The Great Maze
We follow the hallways lined with more trippy illusion art all the way back into the cafe. Laura leads Robin into the Great Maze so fast that he can’t even think about getting back to that four-piece puzzle.
A sign informs us of the Great Maze challenges: The Classic Challenge usually taking 30-60 minutes, or The Difficult Challenge usually taking 60-90 minutes. Please allow us to give you a list of excuses as to why we are not doing The Difficult Challenge:
- We have to work at some point today…
- Laura doesn’t have the patience
- Laura needs to pee
- Laura’s a filthy cheater and would end up using all the emergency doors to get out eventually.
The Classic Challenge it is! We have four towers to make our way to before we can find the exit. Finding these freakin’ towers is pretty freakin’ hard! There they are, towering above us in their towering ways being all tower-like so we can see them above the maze the entire time, we just don’t know how to get to them!
Upstairs, downstairs, dead end after dead end… It’s a lot of trial and error (mostly error after error) before we eventually find our way to all four towers. We leave the maze sweating, frazzled and Laura really needs to pee!
Of course… Of course the toilets are an illusion! (Don’t worry, this story isn’t about to turn into how Laura tried to hit on a hologram toilet). There is an old Roman toilet set up to make it look like you’re part of a Roman bathroom scene. We take photos. This is hilarious.
Swapping puzzles for movies
We are all puzzled out! With our minds boggled and our heads in a spin, we go back into Wanaka to do the most mindless thing possible… Go to the cinema!
An old friend of Robin’s who’s living in Wanaka has invited us to go to the Paradiso Cinema with her and her partner. It’s a local and quirky cinema with locally-made ads, wide and comfortable seats, and freshly baked cookies on sale during the interval. (Yes, there’s an interval).
Tomorrow, we’re freefalling at 200kph from a perfectly good plane… See you then!
The Hall of following faces
Hell yeah! If you liked this blog post, you might possibly most definitely like these:
- 10 Token Tourist Photos You Have to Take in the North Island
- 10 Token Tourist Photos You Have to Take in the South Island
- Wanaka – Guide for Backpackers
See you tomorrow, travel team!