Wednesday, 16 July 2008

13 May 08 - Queenstown to Wanaka

On Day 4 of our trip, we left Queenstown without having spent much time sightseeing. Oh well.

above: The part of Queenstown near our apartment, with Lake Wakatipu (shaped like a lightning bolt) in the backdrop.

First things first, we reluctantly drove to the Queenstown Council to pay our parking fine. (directions courtesy of the printer and internet at Pounamu!) Then we left for Wanaka via Crown's Pass - another one of those challenging mountain passes. Before long, we encountered road works and were forced to manoeuvre gingerly past a tractor on the extremely narrow road. It was terrifying cos the car was but a few inches from the precipice and there were no metal barriers bordering the roads. One wrong move and we'd be hurtling off the cliff. Could see that my mum was breaking out in cold sweat but thankfully we scraped past. From then on, there was minimal roadworks and the view got increasingly magnificent as we ascended!

The following are snapshots along Crown's Pass:

left: the road that almost made our hearts stop.

above: a particular spot along Crown's Pass which I have to say is one of the most spectacular landscapes I'd ever witnessed.

The 2-hour drive from Queenstown culminated in the peaceful, laidback town of Wanaka. I immediately fell in love with it for its slow pace of live, à la Interlaken in Switzerland. Autumn brought along orange, brown and green at the foots of mountains and alongside roads such that everywhere resembled an oil painting.

We checked into Wanaka Edge Suites which had a family room which was well-equiped but paled in comparison to Pounamu. Lesson learnt: always save the best for last!

left: town of Wanaka
right: Wanaka Edge Suites

left: the living area
right: view from the balcony

Puzzle World was first on our list of attractions - an intriguing visit I must say. It was much like our Science centre, except that its principal focus was on optical illusions. If I recall correctly, the entrance fee to Puzzling World and the man-made maze was 12 NZD.

left: doing some stretching?

left and above: the human-sized maze which left us totally befuddled. No choice: had to resort to using the emergency exit. Haha.
right: Dad egging on his counterpart from Roman times.

left: =D
right: bizarre toilet bowl

After attempting the maze for about 45 minutes, we started our tour of Puzzling World proper, the main focus of which, is optical illusions! The holograms were pretty intriguing. Pity that cameras, unlike our eyes, aren't able to process such images as 3D.

The most facinating exhibit for me was the Ames Room, which alters the viewer's perception of height. Will not spoil the surprise by describing it, go visit it yourself :) For the really curious ones, here's a link to a vid of this exhibit:

Another rivetting room was the Tilted House, which throws visitors completely off balance, literally. This is home to gravity-defying illusions. Hold on tight!

left: Dad attempting one of the many puzzles in the puzzle corner.
right: even the ceiling resembles a kaleidoscope.

left: she's just an illusion, bro!
right: the Hall of Following Faces, pretty neat stuff!

above: the Ames Room, quite a genius of a concept!

left: the Matrix Reloaded yet again (in the Tilted House)
right: time to prove our physics teachers wrong - water flows uphill!

After the mind-boggling experience, we headed down to the lake front for a few photos before adjourning for a late lunch (1545h!!) at Speights Ale House. Dad and Mum ordered a Sirloin Steak (26 NZD) expecting tender, juicy steak but were sorely disappointed. Bro had pork chop (26.50 NZD) which was more like pork belly meat with bone. Only I was satisfied (extremely, in fact) with my order of a pot of mussels (21 NZD). These mussels from Stewart Island were the largest I'd ever seen! We learnt after that that this place was actually more renowned for its beers, which according to the bro was top stuff.

left: row of restaurants and shops in the town centre.
right: at Speights Ale House, overlooking mountains.

left: the pride and joy of the restau
right: the mussels I still crave for till this day!

above: Lake Wanaka by day

above: Lake Wanaka at dusk.

above: supermarket where we got our huge bag of fresh, lovely button mushrooms and lettuce over which we drizzled balsamic vinegar (yumm). Oh yeah, and definitely a whole lotta golden kiwi! This stuff is really cheap and so oozing with sweetness so please eat your fill in NZ.

above: one of the quiet streets come night-time.

On a side note, this was the day where we found out that Dad had thrown away our bag of slippers thinking it was a bag of rubbish. The look on his face when he realized his rare mistake was unforgettably hilarious. =D