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Amazing mazes new Canterbury attraction

13 January 2011

Amazing mazes new Canterbury attraction

An amazing new venture has opened in Christchurch. Three new mazes – one of turf, one in maize, and one wooden – have just opened to the public, the latest recreational activity on offer in Canterbury this summer.

Tothill’s Mazes, on Shands Rd near Marshs Rd at Hornby, occupy half the 10 ha site, and are the first of a number more to be established on the rural property.

“I love formal mazes and I think they create the best designs,” says Ben Tothill, a Christchurch lawyer, who has been fascinated by mazes all his life, and now together with his family is indulging his passion.

“We see Tothills’ Mazes as a place for families, for grandparents and grandchildren, for young people and older people to come and enjoy the outdoors, fresh air, and the novelty and challenge of finding their way through the patterns.”

As a child Ben Tothill endlessly drew mazes. When he and wife Sally had their family, Ben drew mazes on the beach for them. Invariably they drew crowds of interested sightseers. Ben designed the Shands Rd mazes himself, the turf labyrinth proving the most difficult.

“This was the most difficult one I’ve ever drawn because of the complexity in trying to remain true to the proportions while making sure it was aesthetically pleasing.”

Ben says a good command of geometry helps in the design of the mazes, which are effectively a pattern of triangles, squares and rectangles.

“There are certain tricks to good maze design – and certainly secrets as to how to get out of them.”

Now the interest is a business venture, with Sally and other family members running the mazes.

While the corn maze will be open only until April, the others will operate all year.

“The idea is that people will come and spend a few hours, or half a day finding their way through the mazes, and having an enjoyable relaxing time at the same time.”

“In the next few months we will have educational resources available so that school groups will find a trip to the mazes, not only a treat, but an educational exercise, with children being asked to identify signs and flora and fauna as they progress through.”

While the business will begin in small way with a shop and ticket facility on site, the Tothills intend to establish a café, and to add more mazes throughout the remaining five hectares of the property.

“It is going to novel and quirky – a New Zealand take on something which has traditionally been regarded as European.”

Ben Tothill’s interest in flags (he has more than 30 flags from around the world) will also be evident, with the property having an heraldic appearance. The land, formerly occupied by PGG ‘s seed research venue, came complete with five flagpoles in situ – the sight of those banished any doubt.

Tothill’s Mazes will be open every day, all year.


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