Farmer promises more horror

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Studholme is an unlikely place for a visitor attraction.
But thanks to farmer Rory Foley, that is exactly what it has become each summer since 2013.
Mr Foley has created giant mazes in his maize crop in a paddock near the Wainono Lagoon. Visitors try to find their way through the maze, avoiding wrong turns, dead ends, and loops. A horror experience is added to the after-dark sessions, when a cast of creepy characters lurks in the undergrowth, as visitors navigate by torchlight.
The 2016 Maize Maze will open to the public on February 12, when the 2ha of maize will be high enough to shut out the rest of the world.
Mr Foley said it would take “a good half-hour” to conquer it _ or longer, depending on the visitors’ skills.
He has put in “months of work” to make this year’s maze the biggest and best yet. He uses a scrubcutter to carve the paths, makes the horror costumes and props, and works with a team of volunteer actors to plot their surprise appearances.
“I’ve changed everything again in the horror side,” he said this week.
“It will be as close as possible to being in a horror movie.”Mr Foley said there were already “lots of bookings” from people keen to have the living daylights scared out of them. Dunedin residents, in particular, have signed up this year.
More than 1500 people took part last year; he hoped to reach 2000 this summer.
One of his main motivations was raising funds for the South Canterbury Cancer Society. So far, he has donated more than $30,000.
The society has told him how the money has helped local cancer sufferers, including making head-scarves for women who have lost their hair after treatment.
Mr Foley’s altruism has earned him a Local Hero Medal in 2014. He was accompanied to the ceremony in Christchurch by Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley.
Other charities have benefited from events masterminded by Mr Foley, including the Waimate Hospital Horror Asylum, the Waimate Zombie Run, and St John Clutha fundraiser Disturbia.
The maize maze will be open during the daytime on Saturdays from February 13 until the maize harvest in autumn. From 11am to 4pm, it costs $20 for a family or $8 per person.
The horror maze is open on Friday and Saturday nights from 9.30pm, costing $20 per person. For an extra $5, people can pitch a tent in a paddock alongside and stay overnight.
The maze is at 615 Hannaton Rd, on the seaward side of the Fonterra milk factory at Studholme.
Mr Foley is holding a field day on March 5 to promote maize to farmers. A free bouncy castle and face-painting will keep the kids occupied while their parents inspect the crop.

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