Daytripper Cate Foster heads to Karaka with a teen and a 6-year-old to tackle the Amazing Maze 'n Maize - and all walk away smiling.
Summer days seem endless when it rains all day and the usual activities have all been done to death. After recent weeks of such days I decided enough was enough and a quick scan of the long-range forecast later, arranged to take my young friends Corey and Yani Luo out for the day. But that in itself presented a problem.
Where could I take a 6-year-old and a 15-year-old and not have one or the other of them bored or way out of her depth. The trusty web came to my rescue and Saturday morning found us out in the car and heading to Spookers, set deep in the rolling Karaka countryside.
"What was she thinking?" I hear my readers howl.
"Isn't that the place where crazy folks go to have the pants scared off them? That's no place to take a six year old."
But rest assured, dear Reader, we were headed to the daytime activity that opened on Boxing Day, the Amazing Maze 'n Maize.
I have to admit that even after a chat with the staff over the phone and my online reading I was still a bit confused about what we were letting ourselves in for, but I felt confident all would be well. Why else would they be selling family passes for $35 if it wasn't fully family friendly?
Our helpful staff member soon made all clear ... sort of. We were issued with a flag on a long pole (in case we got lost), paid $2 extra for a map (recommended), a pencil, a piece of paper with symbols to tick off and, most importantly, a list of questions so we could progress through the maize. This year's theme was all about technology so every one of the 100 signposts, each with a Kernel of Knowledge, and every question point either had a useful piece of information or a question for which we had to pick the right answer.
Here Yani came into her own, confidently reading about photocopiers, computers and technology. Initially we decided it couldn't be that hard and ignored our maps. But after 20 minutes of going round in circles of increasing frustration, we decided we wouldn't be so proud and dug them out of my bag. Corey took over map-reading duties, I became question answerer and flag-holder, while Yani read the information posts and marked off the symbols. With this system in place, we were cooking.
Even so it still took us a bit over an hour to complete our questionnaire and get back to where we started. There Yani announced "that was cool" and declined a ride in the very noisy bouncy castle, while Corey and I agreed how much fun we'd had. Here was a place that the three of us, at different stages and ages of life, had all enjoyed ourselves, exercising our brains while we exercised our bodies. In fact, so engrossed had we been (once we'd got to the map reading stage) that the hour flew by and I for one was surprised that so much fun could be got from running through a field of maize (or corn, as they say in America).
This activity runs until the end of April with one of the grand finales of fun being the Maze Weekend on the four days of the Easter Weekend. Here hordes of sugar-high children chase the Easter Bunny through the maze to find the thousands of Easter eggs left in her wake, with school and family groups making use of it until then.
What more can I say? Except, go. You will have fun.
* Spookers, 833 Kingseat Rd, Karaka. Ph (09) 291 9002.
* 45km from Auckland CBD and approximately 45 minutes door-to-door.
* Opening hours 10am-5pm, 7 days per week, last entry 4pm. Phone first if it's been raining as closed if too wet underfoot. Adult $12, child 3-15 years $8, seniors and students $10, family pass (2 + 2) $35.
* Bring sunhat, sunscreen, water and a buggy for toddlers.