Where We Be
|Wanaka, New Zealand -- Aerobatics & Puzzles
I swear this is my last adrenaline adventure of the trip! I’ve
always wanted to experience what an aerobatic flight feels
like, with loops and barrel rolls and vertical maneuvers,
and today was my chance. I absolutely loved it! I flew in a
Pitt's Special "Red Bull" high-performance bi-plane.
Once over Lake Wakatipu, my pilot told me through my
headphones that he was going to start slowly. Our first
maneuver was a barrel roll to the left, then one to the
right. I loved it! Next he did an aileron roll and a loop. He
asked how I was doing; I could only communicate with
hand signals so I gave him an enthusiastic thumbs up. I
was having a great time! It was clear that what he had told
me was true—this plane was just as happy being upside
down as right-side up, so I relaxed and enjoyed the ride.
Now the pilot really put the bi-plane through its paces. My
favorite maneuver was the Hammerhead—the plane went
vertical, simulated a stall-out, then fell back to earth,
gaining speed rapidly. Next came a series of very fast and
consecutive barrel rolls. After that we did some inverted
flying. I got to see Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown upside
down for 15 seconds. By this time the pilot was going right
from one maneuver to the next, and I was just laughing
and having a great time. He finished with what he called a
“Humpty Dumpty” which was essentially a rollercoaster
ride of powerful ups and downs. We pulled +4 G’s and
-2 G’s during the flight. Afterwards I told him, “That was
pure pleasure!” and meant it. Just like hang gliding, I
would gladly do this adrenaline adventure again. The
brochure refers to it as “aerial sky dancing,” and that is
exactly what it feels like.
Puzzling World is just a few minutes outside Wanaka. Our
favorite of four “Illusion Rooms” was constructed so that if
you came through one door you looked tiny and if you
came through the other door you looked enormous. In
The Tilted House, the floors and ceilings were all askew,
creating convincing illusions (e.g., water flowing uphill).
We headed outside to test our abilities against The Great
Maze. This two-tiered maze of fences and raised walkways
has colored towers at the four corners—Red, Green, Blue,
and Yellow. The goal is to navigate to each of the towers,
then return to the starting point. We felt very much like
hapless mice trapped in a labyrinth too big for them. The
maze was supposed to take less than an hour, but nearly
an hour-and-a-half passed before we emerged. We
crossed paths with many other frustrated people during
our long journey—but at least we made it to the finish
without having to resort to the emergency doors!
|Peaceful view of Lake Wanaka
|Can we go up again? Please?
|We spent a fun day at this unique place just outside Wanaka
|The clock on the leaning tower has been running backwards since 2000
|Compare Giant Bob here to Tiny Bob in the same room below
|Special effects like this were used to make the hobbits appear small
|Can't a girl get a little privacy?
|This two-tiered maze was a real challenge!
|Is Robin leaning or is the room askew?
|Robin triumphant at Yellow Tower, the hardest to reach
|Bob exhausted at the end of the maze. Let me out of here!
|Pretty view from Cardrona Road connecting Queenstown and Wanaka
|The lovely River Anduin in Lord of the Rings runs near Queenstown
|The hike to Rob Roy Glacier is one of the best near Wanaka
|A fantastic view from scenic Mount Aspiring Road