Puzzling World to celebrate fifty years of memories.

Wednesday, 6 December 2023

One of Wanaka’s most enduring tourism businesses is soon to be marking their 50th anniversary with a full day of celebrations designed to involve the locals, visitors, and V.I.P’s from its history.

From 11.30am on December the 17th the front lawn of Puzzling World will play host to a collection of food trucks, lawn games, musicians, and face painting while the attraction itself will be offering 50% off tickets as a thank-you to the community who has supported it since its inception in 1973.

That evening, over 150 guests representing those who contributed to the business from its earliest days up to now are expected to enjoy fine food, drink, and a few yarns with great music, speeches, and an extra-special cake.

In December 1973, when Puzzling World pioneers Stuart and Jan Landsborough scraped together funds to buy seven acres of barren land on the outskirts of Wanaka, many wondered if the wooden maze they’d built in 6 weeks leading up to the school holidays would survive to make the next one.

50 years later, nearly 5 million customers from around the world have enjoyed the range of mind-bending illusions, puzzles, and the world's first two storied maze that has helped cement Puzzling World as an iconic southern tourism destination.

Now owned by their two daughters and managed by the youngest, Heidi and her husband Duncan, the innovations continued over the 20 years since Stuart retired. Extensive refurbishments throughout, additions to the illusion rooms, café and gift shop added to a large illusion room and event space named the Sculptillusion Gallery launched prior to their 40th year in business.

This anniversary they’ll be opening not just a new courtyard but also two new illusion rooms designed in collaboration with Wellington-based digital artist and designer, Tim Christie.

Duncan said Puzzling World’s vision for this, and future developments is in line with its philosophy of ensuring they stay current in the ever-evolving world of tourism and respond to the enormous number of copycat ventures who have sprung up over recent years.

“The last 10 years has seen an outrageous amount of franchisee copycat ‘illusion museums’ open across the world, which just means we need to keep inventing!” he mused.

Heidi, who project-managed the most recent illusion room addition echoes the desire to stay true to Jan and Stu’s original spirit, “Duncan and I, together with my sister, Kim are extremely proud to take business into the future to ensure my parent’s vision is carried through to the next generation,” she said.