It's already December 10th! Where has the time gone?! The morning started off with a very very important task, making a Christmas list for Santa! We were thankful that we were staying at a DOC site with no specific restriction on when we had to leave, so there was plenty of time for making a perfect list.
Once the lists were created, we headed off to Wanaka's Puzzling World. Wanaka is known as the sister city of Queenstown, and you can find many similar activities, such as bungee jumping, skydiving, etc here. But what caught my eye in the travel brochure from very early on was the Puzzling World. Created by Stuart Lanesborough in 1973, it started off with just a single level maze, and it has slowly grown to what it is today, including 5 illusion rooms which throughly mess with anyone's head that steps inside.
We started off with the Great Maze, which is now much more complicated than what it looked like back in 1973. The maze now includes stairs and bridges, and boy it can get really confusing in there! There are two challenges to choose from: the classic challenge and the difficult challenge. In the classic challenge, you are asked to find your way to all 4 corners, in whatever order you happen to find them. In the difficult challenge, you must find the 4 corners in the following order: yellow, green, blue, red.
We decided on the classic challenge, and had a blast finding all the different corners. We did get confused more than a few times, but thankfully we found our way out without having to use any of the emergency exists. :)
As we walked through the maze, we learned that there are 1.5 kilometers of confusing passages, and that most people end up walking between 3 to 5 kilometers in their quest to complete the challenges.
After successfully completing our challenge, we headed inside to check out the rooms and were amazed by a lot of the illusions. Check out the video below for a little laugh... in this windowless room there is no way to gauge your true perspective, creating lots of crazy illusions that throw you off your balance and trick the mind.
The kids had fun walking through the rest of the rooms and exploring, and I have to admit as grown ups we also had fun trying to figure out some of the puzzles and illusions.
Here is a short clip of some of the interesting rooms we visited.
Once we visited all the rooms, we exited into the cafeteria where there are quite a few puzzle games on different tables for kids to play with. My favorite part of this room though was not the games, rather it was the big sign on the wall. The title was "The $100,000 Psychic Challenge". Apparently Stuart Lanesborough started this challenge in 1994 to challenge the existence of psychics. More than 20 years later, no one has yet won the psychic challenge! It really should be a very simple test...if you are truly a psychic! See the picture below for the details...
After a fun filled morning at the puzzling world, we ate lunch in Wendekreisen in the parking lot before we took off towards Fox Glacier. Since we were already ahead of schedule, we decided to take our time on our way and made a few stops to appreciate the beauty.
We also really wanted to stop and see the famous, crystal clear blue pools. When we arrived at the trail that would bring us to the blue pools, both kids were totally passed out, napping in their seats. We waited for a few minutes to let them catch up on some rest, but eventually we decided to wake them, promising them that we would carry them for a while as they woke up. We probably sound like crazy parents, but I promise the kids woke up fine and were actually totally amazed at seeing the blue pools!
The blue color is the result of light refraction on the clear, snow-fed, icy cold water. I read that in the warmer summer months people jump off the bridge into the icy cold waters below!! Must be exhilarating, but not something I would try. Despite the beauty of the landscape laid before our eyes, we actually couldn't stay for too long because of the crazy and infamous sand flies which are known as the Draculas of New Zealand! Thankfully we were all wearing long sleeves and long pants, but still we found quite a few stuck to our sleeves and pants legs! Though during our time on the West Coast of the South Island we barely got bitten by these pesky flies/mosquitos, we were definitely warned against them plenty of times, as they are famous for biting and leaving you with lots of red, swollen, itchy spots. I was surprised to learn that it is actually only the female sand flies that bite you, as they need the protein in the blood for laying eggs. The male flies are happy to feed off of tree sap!
After our trip to the blue pools, we also made a couple of more stops to see some amazing water falls.
After a nice long day of exploring, we decided not to go all the way to Fox Glacier, and instead spent the night in the tiny town of Haast. Since there wasn't a free or DOC site for us to stay at, we ended up staying at a holiday park. We also decided to treat ourselves and eat at a local restaurant, called The Hard Antler, which was conveniently located just a short walking distance away from the holiday park. I decided to try one of New Zealand delicacies, white bait, and my hubby had a delicious venison stew. I, unfortunately, cannot call my white bait patty delicious! I actually wasn't sure I could stomach the whole thing! No one told me there would be so many tiny little fish with their eyes in my food! I am sorry New Zealand, but I am not a fan of white bait!
Back at the Haast Lodge, we decided to use the wonderful indoor space to catch up on some picture editing, while Hannah had a blast playing with some of the toys, and Kian drew pictures of Elmer (one for our motorhome and one for Elmer to take back to the North Pole).
As we headed off to bed it started to rain, and we wondered what the weather would be like for tomorrow. We plan to venture deeper into Glacier Country, and hope to explore the Fox Glacier and maybe even check out the Franz Josef Glacier!
Elmer the Elf Update
This morning we found Elmer just sitting in a corner holding a red pencil. We think that he must have heard Kian the night before saying that he really wanted to draw a picture of Elmer!
By the time we took the picture the red pencil was already moved. ;)