After checking out of the Brookvale Motel in Wanaka, we set off for Puzzling World on the road towards Cromwell. We didn’t have to go far for Puzzling World was only around 4km from the Wanaka town centre. With a giant outdoor maze and an array of optical illusions and mind benders, Puzzling World in Wanaka had to be one of the most unique tourist attractions we have ever seen. Other visitors must surely agree with me for everyone there seemed to be having a puzzling good time.
Specialising in puzzling eccentricity, this business has been in operation since 1973, when its founder Stuart Landsborough sold his house to purchase the 6.5 acre site. His bank turned down his application for a loan as the business was deemed “too risky”, which goes to show you that a) banks want easy money and b) with perseverance and self-belief you can take your dream and make it work. From 17 000 plus visitors in its first year of operation, Puzzling World has grown to welcome an estimated 160 000 visitors annually.
In 2005, Stuart Landsborough handed over the reins of Puzzling World to his youngest daughter Heidi, who is now the business’ general manager. I think I saw her while we were there, working the cafe till. Since there were many puzzles in the cafe/reception area, the three of us played for a good hour before accessing the paid areas.
There were 5 illusion rooms. The first was filled with spooky mind-tricking holographs.
The next room contained more optical illusions.
Next we entered a room where dozens of eyes seemed to be watching our every move.
The fourth was a room that looked normal from the outside but was surprisingly small on the inside.
The fifth was a room that gave me vertigo.
Fancy yourself a little bit of a psychic? Then head on down to Stuart Landsborough’s NZD100 000 Psychic Challenge. Two parts of a promissory note are hidden within 100m of the area where I was standing. Find them and win NZD100 000. To enter, you have to pay a NZD1000 participation fee. This gets you 30 minutes to quiz Stuart Landsborough for as many tips as you need. So far 7 have attempted this challenge since it was first offered but none have won. Who knows? You just might be the first.