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Labyrinths New Zealand

Find labyrinths, mazes and sacred sites in New Zealand

Mazes in New Zealand

The term maze is used sometimes to mean a labyrinth or a maze and the terms are often used interchangeably. But historians and enthusiasts are passionate about which is which. See this excellent article by Jeff Saward on the differences.

 
"... in the English-speaking world it is often considered that to qualify as a maze, a design must have choices in the pathway. Clearly, this multicursal category will include many of the modern installations in entertainment parks and tourist attractions, which exist solely for the purpose of perplexing visitors, as well as the traditional hedges mazes in public parks and private gardens around the world."
~ Jeff Saward

First maze in New Zealand

It is claimed that the first maze in New Zealand was planted in the Dunedin Botanic Garden in June 1910. The hedge maze was initially planted in the Lower Garden and opened to the public in 1918. In 1923 the maze was relocated to the Upper Garden following floods. The inner core of the maze was removed in 1947.

Typology of Mazes

Jeff Saward has developed a classification system for mazes. "While various types of mazes have been proposed and described by modern authorities, five basic types can be clearly identified, as described below. It should be noted, however, that the ingenuity of modern-day designers often results in mazes that can fit happily in more than one of these categories, and, indeed, a few that are difficult to fit into any type."

See this link with examples of each type

Simply-connected Mazes
"If the wall surrounding the goal of a maze is connected to the perimeter of the maze at the entrance, the maze can always be solved by keeping one hand in contact with the wall, however many detours that may involve."

Multiply-connected Mazes
"Any maze with the goal set within an island of barriers, physically unconnected to the rest of the maze, qualifies as 'Multiply-connected'. The best examples contain islands within islands and, paradoxically, can be developed into very intricate mazes with very few dead-ends that are nonetheless extremely difficult to solve."

Three-dimensional Mazes
"The introduction of the third dimension allows the islands of a multiply- connected maze to be totally isolated from each other, with the only link via a bridge. In some of these mazes, successful progress to the goal depends on reaching a series of points within the maze in the correct order."

Conditional Movement Mazes
"The next move is dictated by the overall rules or by instructions given at the visitor's current position, allowing extremely complex puzzles to occupy a very limited space." These are a development since the 1980s.

Interactive Mazes
"High-tech mazes where the design responds to the actions of visitors .... They incorporate computer-timed barriers and other innovative devices such as motion sensors and mechanisms that determine the physical characteristics of the walker. [These] first appeared first appeared in the closing years of the twentieth century and no doubt herald the direction of future leading-edge maze design."

~ Jeff Saward. See complete article with diagrams at

Contemporary Mazes in New Zealand

Like other parts of the world, New Zealand is seeing a resurgence in mazes, including seasonal corn maizes or "maize mazes". These commercial mazes are predominantly aimed at children and families, but are no less challenging for the adult enthusiast. Prepare to be lost !

Tothills corn maize

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