Quirky things to do in wonderful Wanaka

Quirky Wanaka New Zealand

We had arrived in sunny serene Wanaka after a 3 and a half hour drive from drizzly dreary Franz Josef (do you like my use of alliteration there?). We parked up, checked in at our hostel and took a short walk into town where we were greeted by scenes such as this…

Gorgeous Lake Wanaka in New Zealand

It was gorgeously warm and sunny so we decided to have some lunch at one of the restaurants overlooking the lake. We ate at a place called Trout, where I had a chickpea, halloumi and pesto burger with chunky fries. I am telling you – New Zealand make the BEST burgers!

Chickpea, halloumi and pesto burger at Trout restaurant in Wanaka, New Zealand

Unfortunately, we were only in Wanaka for 1 night but it was the perfect place for a little relaxation before we hit the crazy adrenalin capital of New Zealand aka Queenstown.

So what are the quirky things to do in Wanaka?

1. Cinema Paradiso

Cinema Paradiso in Wanaka New Zealand - the coolest and quirkiest cinema i've ever been to!

What’s so special about a cinema? I hear you ask. Well, this one has SOFAS and CARS inside it! Yup, hubby and I used to be quite avid cinema goers and always used to joke and say that we should have our own sofa at the cinema, well at Cinema Paradiso our wish came true. Before we even got to New Zealand, we decided that we’d go and see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – part 2 at some point during the trip and we found ourselves in Wanaka shortly after it’s release date. Perfect timing!

The cinema is small (it only has 2 screens) so advance booking is recommended. We popped in there before lunch to book our tickets for the 5pm showing and we got the last 2 tickets! You aren’t allocated seats so it’s pretty much first come first served.

Inside Cinema Paradiso in Wanaka
The array of seating options at Cinema Paradiso – including that blue car at the back!

Top tip: If you’re planning on a cosy movie experience with your significant other, choose a two-seater sofa because you may find your romantic evening for two will be gatecrashed by a third randomer when they try to squeeze the latecomers in!

My favourite thing: Besides the obvious, I loved how cheap the drinks were here, especially compared to cinema prices back home.

Something to note: There is an interval halfway through each film where you can go and buy freshly baked cookies (which are apparently very good). I found this a bit annoying as I was getting into the film and wasn’t hungry enough for a cookie.

Retro car inside Cinema Paradiso Wanaka
You can choose this retro car to sit in instead of a sofa!

2. Puzzling World

Puzzling World is kind of hard to describe, it’s like a bizarre museum of optical illusions and madness and describes itself as Wanaka’s Wonderful World of Weirdness. You can kind of tell from how the building itself looks!

Quirky Wanaka New Zealand - Puzzling World!

There are holograms and optical illusions dotted about on the walls throughout the experience. One of the first rooms you enter is the Tilted House where the floor is at one angle, the walls appear to be slanting at another angle. There’s a chair lift which seemingly travels uphill and all sorts of other mind boggling oddities. I couldn’t actually spend too long in this room as it made me feel quite sick!

Inside The Tilted House at Puzzling World
Attempting to do the Michael Jackson lean infront of a pool table where the balls roll upwards!
Cool hologram at Puzzling World in Wanaka
From one angle the statue is there… and from the next she’s been stolen!
Inside Puzzling World - Wanaka's Weird and Wacky attraction
Sitting on a seemingly suspended bench infront of a suspended tap
optical-illusion
Do you see the word ‘optical’ or ‘illusion’?

Puzzling World is one of those places that is better seen than described. It doesn’t take too long to walk around, but it is fun and interesting, and a decent way to spend a morning (which we did before we left for Queenstown!). Even the toilets here have optical illusions on the floor and the cafe has puzzles to play with.

Top tip: Keep your eyes open in some of the tourist magazines for discount coupons. They come in pretty handy when you’re on a budget!

My favourite thing: The Ames Room is awesome. You enter one door, your friend enters the other. You are both standing in the same room yet due to some illusion and trickery, one of you appears to be a giant and the other one appears to be teeny tiny! You can get a passer-by to take a photo for you, or you can watch yourself back on the tv they have there. Check out my video at the bottom of this post to see what I’m talking about!

Something to note: There are several entry options for Puzzling World – $16 for the Illusion Rooms, $16 for the maze or $20 for both. We decided that as we had other plans later on in the day, we would just pay for the entry to the Illusion Rooms as we weren’t too sure how long we could end up in the maze for!

Here’s a short and sweet video we made at Puzzling World. The Ames Room is at the end. Enjoy!

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