Wanaka may be a small place but it has everything you need to make it home while you explore. It’s not got the buzz of Queenstown, but that is probably why you stop here. It’s laid back, has some great bars, and the setting couldn’t be more picturesque, with snow-capped mountains sliding into greeny-blue waters. Get on a bike, take a hike, or fly with a parachute – there are many ways to see the sights.
We started our day in the saddle, pedaling around the lake. When the children were very small it was quite easy. My husband and I both had a child’s seat on the back of our bikes and away we would go. The children would, more often than not, fall asleep and we could spend the day eating up the miles. But children have a habit of growing. When they got too big for the back of the bike, we switched to trailers. Now with a six and four year old we had to work out the next stage. We settled on hiring a little bike for our elder daughter, and a tag along one-wheeled addition, fixed to the back my of husband’s bike, for our younger daughter. We have now relinquished some of the cycling control we once had and that means we can only go as far, and fast, as our daughter is able to pedal. So a tame, but fun, morning was spent pootling on the lake shore. We must have been going slowly because even our younger daughter had the chance to remark how beautiful it was.
After a spot of lunch back in town, we switched tyres for our own treads, and took off for a little hike to the top of Mount Iron. It’s a short 90 minute circular route, which despite the whinging and whining of our two mountain goats, we are pleased we undertook. The view from the top is far-reaching, and is a full 360 degree panoramic picture.
The reward for the children came at the end. I told our youngest that the treat was a banana (she really loves bananas) but they were even happier to get their minds exercised at Puzzling World. I wouldn’t usually visit a tourist attraction that had no connection with the local area. When I’m travelling I like learn about my surroundings. But Puzzling World had piqued my curiosity, and it is such a strange place, and a famous Wanaka attraction, that I had all the reason I needed to pay a visit.
The brainchild of Stuart Landsborough, and today run by his daughter and son-in-law, Puzzling World offers a Great Maze (now celebrating it’s 40th anniversary) alongside illusion rooms, holograms, mind-teasing sculptures and, bizarrely, some Roman toilets. It’s not a huge museum, and if you spend too long trying to work out each puzzle or brainteaser your head might explode, but it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours.
Wanaka is a town I could return to.