Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New Zealand 2014 - Wanaka Puzzling World

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New Zealand 2014: Wanaka Puzzling World
Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand - November 2014
Tumbling Towers.
A visit to the Puzzling World in Wanaka is a visit to be befuddled, bemused, bewildered, baffled, bamboozled, amazed, perplexed and intrigued. Yes all of these feelings came to me as I viewed exhibits after exhibits. Yes, for those who wants to be mystified not by magic but by the quirks of physics and the human conception, go there and be bepuzzled!
Gosh! Am I puzzling you already.... read on and the confusion may clear up OR ... haha .. perhaps it may become more confusing.

I put here a map so that you can orientated yourself as I take you on a tour of the place and not be lost.
Puzzling World was started by Stuart and Jan Landsborough at the end of 1973 with the opening of the Great Maze. That proofed to be a major attraction and more and more inter-active puzzling exhibits were included.

Moving in from the car-park, even before entering the place itself, one will see the Tumbling Towers with their colourful roofs at one corner. To another corner is the Leaning Tower, which really leans - it leans much more, very much more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Leaning at an angle of about 45 degress, it seem to dangerously perched on one corner of its base. It looked like a giant had come by and pushed it aside, ripping it off the ground. ...And then some good angels and pixies came around to hold it up invisibly, stopping it from toppling over.
The tower is also a clock tower, but this is a fun back-to-front clock that oddly run backwards in time, starting from midnight December 31st 1999! I wonder whether there is a significance in that time and date?
Gosh! I better stop wondering and just let myself be amused.

The tower is also a source of prankish photos, like this Goliath couple pushing it over ...

... OR this Herculean guy holding it up with a single hand.

Just pass the entrance and behind the cafeteria is the Puzzle Centre. Here at the many tables are puzzle games waiting for visitors to solve with their hands, minds and eyes.

To one side of this room, on display within enclosed glass shelves are a collection of favourite puzzles from all over the world - some of these intriguing addictive games stretches centuries back in time. Perhaps you can recognise some of them that you had played with while as a growing child OR as an adult still with that inquisitive child within.

A side door of the Puzzle Centre leads outdoor to the Great Maze. This is the thing that started it all for the Puzzling World tourist attraction.

The Great Maze is now even greater, it has been extended to 1.5km long; most people has to walk three to five kilometres to solve it!

To add to it, the maze is now even more complex. With over-bridges (that are part of the maze) added to span over the timber walls below, it has become the only 3-D maze in the world.

There are four towers of different colours at corners of the maze; the challenge is to find the towers! The harder challenge is to find the towers in a particular order!

Back inside, the Hologram Hall displays lots of holograms, but photos are only 2-D and thus cannot show the 3-D effects of holograms. There are many holograms here and visitors can be seen moving left to right and even up and down to grasp the visuals of the 3-D effect.

The Tilted House is one of the best experience in the Illusion Rooms. As shown in above chart, the Tilted House is tilted downwards by 15 degrees. Walls and openings although looking vertical are actually tilted too.

Although one knows that the house is tilted, the illusion is complete with walls and openings tilted making it look like the rooms in the house are "horizontal" when their are actually slanting. Even if one know this, the brain cannot comprehend the physics of it. Without windows as reference to the outside world, the brain gets tricked. One tends to be pull towards a wall instead of compensating by standing atilt.

Although the brain is still confused and the "pull" is still there, after a while one adjusts to the situation. Visitors like those above are having fun, looking like they are standing slanting when they are actually standing vertical.

Those steps seems to be sloping and the person "miraculously" standing tilting without aid; when actually the steps are horizontal and the person is standing vertical.

A swing seems to be magically frozen in an up-swing position!

At one wall of a room is a jigsaw puzzle of the Mona Lisa, patiently smiling at the confused visitors.

But look closely now. The photo of Mona Lisa is composed from several small photos of people fro the Middle Ages. No wonder she was smiling impishly.

Now, this one room that makes a person self-centric.
On the walls are panels of faces of VERY IMPORTANT people and all these faces are looking at you!
There are seven walls, each six panels wide and four panels tall giving a total of 168 faces. AND all of them staring at you; there eyes and faces following you as you move around. A bit eerie, yeah?
The faces are that of Albert Einstein, Mother Theresa, Winston Churchill, Vincent Van Gogh, Abraham Lincoln, Ludwig von Beethoven and Nelson Mandela. With all these VVIPs staring at you, one can either feel self-centred or humbled.

These faces are actually sculpted hollowed out inwards. Through illusion, they seem to protrude outwards and follow your movements - move sideways and the faces move with you, always staring at you. Squat down and stand up several times and the faces seems to nod their approval. The shadows add to the effect.
Although not effectively replicated here, the illusion is not lost in the photo above. Look at a few of the faces at the centre and move around, the gaze of Mother Theresa will follow you.

Same goes for Honest Abe here; his stare just can't let go of you.

This is another interesting room. The physical dimensions of the room has been tweaked, it has been done so subtly that the eye does not notice it. Looking at two people, each standing at a corner of the room and it seems that ...

... one is an angry giant ...

... and at the other corner is an brash little dwarf.

I like this room, it belittled me...

and then, walking over to the other corner, I felt great; gigantic in fact!
The illusion is complete.

Ambigrams are drawings/sketches that have pictures within pictures. The pictures can show contradicting or complementary concepts.
The above is called "Pleasant Memories" which shows a profile face of an old man with "naughty" ladies making up his face. These are the pleasant memories of this old man.

Ladies gossiping froms the face of a devil. No, Gossip is not one of the Senen Deadly Sins, but it comes close.
Napoleon Bonaparte; the Grand Conqueror.
I reserve comments.

- a mirror turns into a skull for a lady beautifying herself. Does vanity leads to death?

The following are paintings by Robert Gonsalves, showing how he has cleverly and beautifully blended sceneries together.

The following are paintings of word play, they could be anagrams, palindromes, semordnilap or some other form of word play.
Does this say Optical or Illusion. It appropriately states both!

Palindromic alphabet sequence.

 Teach & Learn.

Love in Hate.
How true! We sometimes have these mixed feelings for each other.

In here are sculptures, some of them kinetic (moving) that portrays some form of illusion:

Cubed Cubes!
- Cubes cut of from larger cubes or floating in front of them?

Oscillating Cones.
A cone stands on its tip and rotates. Another one stands on the lower one's top edge and seems to spin together with only a small section of their edges touching. Amazing!
For a better understanding of this illusion, click here to view Oscillating Cones Video on YouTube.

This large sculpture hangs from the ceiling; it looks flat, but as it rotates cubes pops into view!
For a better understanding of this illusion, click here to view Magic Rotating Giant Cubes Video on YouTube.

The Impossible Bench Seat.
These two children seems to be seating on a floating plank, when in fact their legs form the legs of the bench.

The Climbing Hut.
From inside, it looks like the walls are invisible and the boys can be seen climbing the hut.

From outside, the boys seems to have morphed into the stonework walls and the corrugated roof.

The Hanging Tap.
I have seen this before, but those were smaller versions.
This giant tap seems to be floating in the air; the one here seems to be a bit heavy and needed some wires to help suspend it.
The question asked is how does it stay afloat and if it is not connected to a pipe at the back where does the water come from?
Go figure!

Rubin's Vase plays on the mind's perception of viewing things; faces seems to be formed by the edge profile of the vase.

Going to the toilet here is not "safe" too.
There are illusions there too!

Careful now... don't fall down.

But even leaving the main building is not the end... yet...
On the walls outside the toilet at the car-park a paintings by MC Escher. These paintings play on the illusion of things.
Concave Convex.

Which way is this facing? Left? Right? Top? Bottom?
It's looks like a mess but it's not.

These crocodiles are emerging from a painting and crawling around before going back in.

Bonds Of Union.
This is one of his more publicised painting. Interesting how the skin from two scalps unwindsand bond with each other.

Day & Night.
Black ducks fly into the daylight, while white ducks fly into the night.

Ascending Descending.
Are those people at the top of the building climbing up or down the steps?

Drawing Hands.
A cleverly done piece of hands drawing each other.

And yet it's still not the end of the illusion, not the end of the fun.
The foyer of this car-park toilet has been painted to look like a Roman Toilet, with real crapping benches blending into the painted ones.
Which are the real people and which are the painted ones?

Let's blend into and become part of the painting.
Holy Crap! Taking a crap.

... and a bum wash too!

Yes, Wanaka's Puzzling world is a fun place, intriguing, beguiling but fun!

188 Wanaka-Luggate Hwy (Hwy 84), Wanaka 9382, South Island, New Zealand.
Phone: +64 (03) 443 7489     Fax: +64 (03) 443 7486
Post: PO Box 95, Wanaka, New Zealand.
GPS: -44.696752, 169.162376
Hours: November to April 8:30am to 6:00pm     May to October - 8:30am to 5:30pm
Christmas Day - 10:00am to 3:00pm (Last admission is half an hour before closing).
Admission Prices: Combo (Illusion Rooms & Great Maze) Adults NZD17-50 / Children NZD12-00
Illusiion Rooms OR Great Maze - Adults NZD14-00 / Children  NZD10-00
Email:     Web Site:

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