New Zealand, South Island, Wanaka

Wanaka

Wanaka

Wanaka is a lovely small town on the shore of a beautiful blue lake, the sunshine twinkled off the lake, our new Mercedes campervan handled like a dream, and all was right with the world. After our adventure with the Cursed Camper, we felt that things were turning for the better. After listening to the locals a few times I realized that Wanaka is pronounced like a native Bostonian from the US who asks if you “want a car”.

We were able to Skype Janelle from our camp site

We were able to Skype Janelle from our camp site

We made it to the tourist information desk just before they locked the doors; picked up a stack of brochures, asked for directions to the holiday park, then made our way to the camp and “plugged in” for the night. After sorting through the options; Alex lobbied hard to visit Puzzling World; Suzanne and I wanted to take a day hike to the top of a nearby hill because we were both beginning to anticipate the hiking we wanted to do in Peru – and neither of us felt near peak aerobic condition; and for my 50th birthday, I requested a jet-boat ride. Adrenaline activities such as bungee jumping, sky diving, mountain climbing, glacier walks, spelunking, and gliding over fjords are offered throughout the country. Jet-boat rides are one of the more “tame” adrenaline activities but was still a blast.

DSCN0136Puzzling World is a surprisingly entertaining place, it demonstrates and explains optical illusions and brain teasers for all ages. We were all impressed by how our minds are tricked by our eyes.

Puzzling World

Puzzling World

As part of the Sherry World Academy curriculum, Alex and I began studying pencil drawing on the beach in Phu Quoc Vietnam. Many of the concepts we practiced to represent 3D images on a page came alive at Puzzling World.

Optical illusions - even in the bathrooms

Optical illusions – even in the bathrooms

Will they walk by the emergency exit from the maze?

Will they walk by the emergency exit from the maze?

Nope - Suzanne and Alex bailed out the "emergency exit"

Nope – Suzanne and Alex bailed out the “emergency exit”

To top off the experience we entered a seriously challenging walking maze. It reminded Suzanne and I of the mazes that Mark Burnett builds for the TV show Survivor every season. I wonder if they will ever get tired of shooting Survivor on tropical islands and have a “Survivor Wanaka” season?

The day-hike to the top of Iron Mountain afforded us a 360 degree view of the area.

Hiking up Iron Mountain - Alex complained the whole way

Hiking up Iron Mountain – Alex complained the whole way

It also afforded Patrick a chance to show us all up with his ability to walk briskly up a steep slope with no apparent effort (ah to be 12 again). Alex on the other hand took the opportunity to complain, whine, drag her feet, mumble insults, and generally have a wonderful time being  dramatically miserable. Suzanne and I huffed and puffed up the trail with ominous visions of Machu Picchu in our heads.

After our jet-boat ride in Wanaka

After our jet-boat ride in Wanaka

The jet-boat ride is a quintessential Kiwi activity. The water jet technology was invented by a New Zealander named William Hamilton back in the 1950’s as he worked to deal with shallow fast flowing rivers, and rocky river beds. His solution was water jets, big engines, small boats, and a slightly crazy driver. We experienced all this as our boat zipped up a fast-moving crystal clear river, skimming over the ripples at high-speed mere feet from trees, rocks, death, and disaster. I suspect liability laws in NZ favor tour operators. Luckily a couple of American guys in the seat behind us filmed 20 minutes of the ride using one of those cool HD cameras and gave me a copy of the video after the ride.

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