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Don't Miss Puzzling World - New Zealand's Optical Illusion Museum and Giant Maze

Updated on June 9, 2016
RhondaAlbom profile image

Rhonda is an award-winning travel writer/photographer at AlbomAdventures. Based in New Zealand she has visited 54 countries on 6 continents.

Puzzling World in Wanaka is a Must See for Visitors to New Zealand's South Island

Nestled among some of New Zealand's best scenery is Puzzling World, a human maze and museum filled with challenge, mystery and "puzzling eccentricity." When we first saw the 'Leaning Tower" greeting us to Stuart Landsborough's Puzzling World, we knew we were in for a unique experience. The fun starts before we even entered, as the clock has been moving backwards since the new millennium. Even more interesting is the tower itself, as it balances on one corner at 53 degrees.

Inside Puzzling World we found what is possibly the world's best puzzling and illusion museum along with the world's first "modern-styled" two level human maze, a cafe with free access to puzzles, and a puzzling gift shop. This is a great New Zealand tourist spot, often overlooked as it is centered in an area frequently visited for natural beauty and outdoor adventure.

It takes only a couple hours to visit, less if you solve the maze quicker than we did, and we found Puzzling World to be a great use of our time. It is often frequented by local Wanaka residents who stop in for a coffee and a challenge. We visit a couple of times each season just to do the human maze. Here is your chance to follow our adventure.

All other photos used on the page © Rhonda Albom 2009, unless otherwise stated.

Join Me At Puzzling World

Enjoy this photo tour

The Fun Starts Outside!

We learn about the backwards clock before we enter the building.
We learn about the backwards clock before we enter the building.
hall of faces at puzzling world
hall of faces at puzzling world

Holograms, Optical Illustions, and Then a Magical Hall of Faces

It's almost eerie to see all those eyes following you

When we first entered Puzzling World's illusion museum we were greeted with a hall filled with interesting holograms, one after the next. Then next room was filled with optical illusions followed by the most bizarre and interesting of all, the hall of faces.

At first it just appears that each wall repeats the same face, with Albert Einstein being my favorite. However as we moved through the room we couldn't help but notice that all of the eyes were following us no matter which way we turned. There is a video of this room attached just below.

Next you come to the shrinking room, which is captured in another short video clip below.

One of My Favourite Illusions Which Hangs at Puzzling World

Castle of Illusion Poster by Irvine Peacock
Castle of Illusion Poster by Irvine Peacock | Source
Masters of Deception: Escher, Dalí & the Artists of Optical Illusion
Masters of Deception: Escher, Dalí & the Artists of Optical Illusion

320 pages filled with illusion and deception that appear to change before you eyes.

 
optical illusion
optical illusion

The Girls Love the Tilted Room

It makes me dizzy

Next we entered the room entitled "Tilted House." I get dizzy when I first enter the room and always have to hold on to the strategically placed rails, suggesting that I am not the only one to suffer this affliction. Our children, however, really enjoy the room.

Probably the most prominent and photographed feature is the steps, on which people stand straight, and appear leaning. Melissa demonstrates in the photo to the right.

Another highlight of the room is a chair which slides uphill. We each had a turn sitting upon it, hitting the release which is holding it down and sliding along the track uphill (see the video below). The room is actually tilted at 15 degrees, but the disorientation is amazing.

Love Optical Illusions? - These books let you be amazed everyday.

So many books to choose from, most of which I have never seen before. I have listed a few of the higher rated books below. For A Complete Listing of Optical Illusions Click Here or check out my favorite book just below.

Optical Illusions: The Science of Visual Perception (Illusion Works)
Optical Illusions: The Science of Visual Perception (Illusion Works)

312 pages filled with more than 275 optical illusions that appear to change as you look at them. Author Al Seckel included many well-known images, such as Shepard's tabletop, Wade's spiral, Ames room and Rubin's face/vase, and many lesser-known illusions.

 

A Few of the Illusions

We didn't bring our video camera, but fortunately other people have, and they posted their videos on youtube. There were many to choose from, I selected videos which were both short and I felt did a good job demonstrating the illusion.

Have You Ever Used a Roman Toilet?

Ty Walker, Melissa Albom and Lindsea Lumpkin
Ty Walker, Melissa Albom and Lindsea Lumpkin

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, I think this one speaks for itself. If you look closely you will see that my daughter and her two friends are in the foreground, and it is a wall mural in the background, but very nicely done!

These toilets are for show, there are modern toilets for use, but they weren't interesting enough to show here.

The Great Maze (Labyrinth)

The world's first modern style two story great maze. It was designed to be an adult size challenge.

Get ready to join us in the other half of Puzzling World

The Guidelines at the Great Maze Entrance

This is not our first attempt at this maze (not our second attempt either). One would think we would be a lot better at it by now. Last time we came, we found all four towers, but couldn't find our way out - so we gave up after 2 hours and took a short cut! This time went better, but still not the 30 minutes that this big sign suggests.

Up and down, across, over, under, around, will we ever get out of here?

Up and down, across, over, under, around, will we ever get out of here?
Up and down, across, over, under, around, will we ever get out of here?

This dead end is at the base of a tower. We thought we were so close!

This dead end is at the base of a tower. We thought we were so close!
This dead end is at the base of a tower. We thought we were so close!

The view from the yellow tower.

The view of the Puzzling World maze from the yellow tower.
The view of the Puzzling World maze from the yellow tower.

Somebody took a short cut!

Somebody took a short cut!
Somebody took a short cut!

Sarah up in the green tower.

Sarah up in the green tower.
Sarah up in the green tower.

Still going up and down and around, well past the 30 minutes they suggested it would take us to complete.

Still going up and down and around, well past the 30 minutes they suggested it would take us to complete.
Still going up and down and around, well past the 30 minutes they suggested it would take us to complete.

Eventually we found all four corners!

Yes, it is raining, we have found all four corners and are now looking for the finish!

Yes, it is raining, we have found all four corners and are now looking for the finish!
Yes, it is raining, we have found all four corners and are now looking for the finish!

"You have walked 5,268 steps" (mom's pedometer talks!)

Finally, 5,268 steps later, we did it!

Finally, 5,268 steps later, we did it!
Finally, 5,268 steps later, we did it!

Time to Relax, Have a Snack and Try Some Puzzles - More challenges in the cafe

One final truly unique thing about Stuart Landborough's Puzzling World is the cafe. After you are done exploring, you can sit with a cup of tea and play endless games and work on puzzles. They have a giftshop and all of the puzzles for sale are available for play in the cafe. We have even gone on rainy days just to work puzzles. You are not even required to make a purchase, although most probably do.

So, What Do You Think?

Do You Want To Visit Puzzling World?

See results

More Optical Illusion on eBay

The computer is out on it's daily search of ebay treasures, today it is looking for "optical illusions." Click on any item for more information, or from there do your own search. Check back often, it changes frequently.

© 2009 Rhonda Albom

Does Puzzling World Look Like Fun to You? - Let Me Know What You Really Think!

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    • profile image

      Sally@Toddlers on Tour 22 months ago

      What a fun family adventure - our family would love a day out here.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 3 years ago

      Well, now I must add New Zealand to my travel dream list, if for no other reason than to visit Puzzling World! What a fantastic guide you and the girls have been and such fun!

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Sounds like an interesting place!

    • sharonbellis profile image

      Sharon Bellissimo 3 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Wow, looks like lots of fun.

    • Stephanie36 profile image

      Stephanie 4 years ago from Canada

      We drove this when I was in New Zealand and I really wanted to go in but we didn't have time. Now I understand why our guides said that! I would love to go if I get the chance. It sounds like so much fun! Great lens :)

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      My life seems so boring compared to yours. This would be so much fun, especially to visit with kids.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      My life seems so boring compared to yours. This would be so much fun, especially to visit with kids.

    • Mistl profile image

      Mistl 5 years ago

      This looks like a really cool "theme park". I would love to try out the mazes and labyrinths

    • profile image

      elena213 5 years ago

      I have been to this Puzzling world and Its just awesome. Stayed in Wanaka for 2 days on my south island trip. Had fun doing maze :P also liked that tilted room.

    • nadjaiskeniskie profile image

      nadjaiskeniskie 5 years ago

      Looks like fun - except the maze bit. I hate mazes, they make me feel trapped.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 6 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Rhonda, it is so obvious that you've got the Squidoo bug. I'll bet (like me) you are always thinking, "I'll make a lens out of this!"

    • Wendy L Henderson profile image

      Wendy Henderson 7 years ago from PA

      This looks like a really cool place! Love it!

    • FlynntheCat1 profile image

      FlynntheCat1 7 years ago

      Ha, yes, I remember doing that when I was eleven :D My family got lost in the maze and made me leave before I was ready!

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 7 years ago

      Looks like a real fun place to visit.

    • missbat profile image

      missbat 7 years ago

      Wow, if I ever get down NZ way, I will have to make a stop here! Great job on this lens!

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Love this!

    • Davidfstillwagon profile image

      Davidfstillwagon 7 years ago

      mazes are a lot of fun and so are optical illusions! 5*

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 7 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      This looks like a really fun place to visit! 5*

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I sure enjoyed this lens so know that I would enjoy visiting Puzzling World.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 7 years ago

      Puzzling World looks like so much fun!

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