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March 28, 2005
Amy writes:

After a recent spate of adventurous activities, Jody and I found our feet again (briefly) at the strange-but-true world that is Puzzling World in Wanaka - a theme park dedicated to all aspects of puzzles and illusions (not just the 500-piece-bowl-of-fruit-with-a-bit-of-grape-missing variety). See it's website.

Strangely, most of the visitors were adults who were pulling confused faces as they fought to get out of the attraction's giant maze. In the huge labyrinth of bridges and paths, we quickly abandoned the 'advanced' challenge of finding four turrets in colour order, for simply trying to find them at all and make it out of there before lunch. Not such a bold move you're thinking, but the emergency exits were there for a reason. We didn't cheat (unlike the under-7's we saw sneaking away from their parents and under a fence) but we didn't look smug for very long.

Puzzling World also had a series of baffling illusion rooms (which included the toilets! - see picture). One in which, to my delight and for the only time it's ever going to happen, I was taller than Jody (at least on screen!). In fact, I more resembled the BFG (minus the funny ears) while Jody was hobbit-sized. The 'tilted house' was another strange place with water that appeared to flow upwards with everything at an angle. It's so strong an effect that we both felt sick and had to leave for a while, before going back to snap some evidence of this odd place.

Currently we're puzzling over the Inca Trail of Peru. Jody's very keen on walking the entire four-day hike to Machu Picchu but after the Tongariro Crossing, I'm worried about the grief all those steps will give my knees. Well, I'll either do it (and face the consequences) or take the train up and see Jody at the top.

As Jody mentioned previously, the Tongariro Crossing was bizarre and brilliant at the same time. Unfortunately for me, there is no gain without pain so the amazing views witnessed from the top of the 1800m red crater were not without their price as I hobbled around later that evening. Muscles in my hips and calves that had never made their presence known before had seized up, making me look like someone recovering from surgery. However, although the up-cliff bits were a slog (with a breather every five minutes), the moon-like landscape surpasses anything I've ever seen before.

An ascent of 750m over three hours then a downhill of three and a half hours and believe me, everyone looks crippled at the end. The not-quite-there-yet final few hours are steps down through bracken and heather-covered hills that could almost be Scotland were it not for the sulphur springs on them, breathing hot steam up through the grass. You get to the bottom, think it's all over that there's a nice bus ride, spa and hostel bed waiting - but no! Still another hour through muddy forest 'til you hit the car park.

I'm not a great walker. Uphill had me puffing away while going downhill either had me slipping on volcanic ash and falling on my arse, or by the end hobbling through the bush saying for the 43rd time that this bit had to be the end. It was relentless but this was Mordor country, land of the Orcs and Mt Doom (or Mt Ngaruhoe as it's also known), and like Frodo - we live to tell the tale.

posted at 10:03 PM | link

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Jody and Amy have finished their 10 month adventure around the world, that began Nov 2, 2004, and ended Sep 2, 2005. They're back home in London now, doing normal things, like going to work and drinking tap water. You can see a map of what was their planned route, but we didn't quite follow it.
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