About Us

The Puzzle Place


The Puzzle Place has about a hundred varieties of some of the world’s greatest brain teasers specializing in the Courtney Classic 3D puzzles – designed by Ian Courtney almost 30 years ago – never copied or duplicated. Handcrafting that no laser cutter will ever be able to do.

To top it all off, they are made from locally sourced Southern African timbers.

This is a family run business in the heart of Valley of a 1000 Hills, making these wooden puzzles with high standards of woodworking skills learnt over years of experience.

Our puzzles have traveled to most corners of the world and left the best impressions on those who have received them as gifts. See the maps in our shop with 1000’s of pins.

The puzzles have various levels of complexity in different ways of thinking to challenge the entire family. Excellent for learning over and above the normal teaching in schools and beyond.  Many of the puzzles are used for educational purposes in numerous schools.

We also add corporate logos for those impressive, unusual gifts, ice-breakers at conferences and used for getting a new idea or conceptual thinking in the corporate world.

These puzzles make ever lasting memories and are perfect for all occasions.

Find YOUR perfect challenge here, on our website!


The Puzzle Place 1991 - 2020

Wood Magic began

Wood Magic started in 1991 in South Africa as a small family business with Ian Courtney at the the helm. Ian started making kiddies toys in his garage, with his 2 year old daughter as inspiration.

These toys were marketed via flea markets and a reputation for quality was acheived.

After a purchase of a scroll saw, the toys became puzzles as well and through a series of progressions the 3D puzzles evolved. These puzzles proved too complex for the children and so the target market shifted to the adults and the puzzles became more challenging.

Ian spent many hours searching through old wood working books, finding complex and unusual brain teasers that he could hand cut on his scroll saw, a lot of these haven't been seen in many years.

Ian's garage in Caversham Glen

A move out of Ian's garage in Caversham Glen to the Pineville Junction Craft Village in 1992 provided a larger workshop where he could also teach his skills to others and a shop from where to market the products.

In August 1997 we purchased a 4.5 acre property in Bothas Hill and the Pineville shop was closed and moved up the hill.

Starting with a craft market

Starting with a craft market, then the Wood Magic log cabin, we developed the property and invited more crafters to join us. The Courtney's operated the 1000 Hills Arts and Crafts Village in Bothas Hill from 1998. The Puzzle Cafe was build with an amazing view overlooking the railway line and Alverstone hill. An expansion of Wood Magic included the Krafty Kids shop in the village.

The 1000 Hills Craft Village

The 1000 Hills Craft Village, as it became known, had 8 wooden craft shops and attracted visitors from all over the world.

We also enjoyed visits from car clubs on their day out and managing to get a visit from an old 'London' double decker bus - based in Durban.

The ten years there were great until the economic downturn of 2009 started hurting everyone and things slowed down.

The property was sold to developers in early 2010 and Wood Magic moved.

Wood Magic changed its name to
The Puzzle Place

After the property was sold in 2010, Wood Magic changed its name to The Puzzle Place and moved just over the road into a craft village now called 1000 Hills Village. We initially had one of the smallest rondavel shops but kept upgrading, moving into larger rondavels.

Bigger shop in 1000 Hills Village

When it became available we moved to a bigger shop and this is where The Puzzle Place is located on the left side of the 1000 Hills Village.

We have a variety of about a hundred brain teasers and the most incredible wood designs, including our speciality Courtney Classic 3D puzzles - never copied - never duplicated - hand crafting that no laser cutter is capable of doing!

We also have numerous local crafters that supply us with their wood crafts from carvings and keyrings to clocks, toys and paintings.

The Puzzle Place is still run by Ian Courtney and is being kept original.

It is an awesome place to bring the whole family for a challenge.

Our Team


Ian Courtney


Hi.. I started this business in August 1991 and I am still actively involved in every aspect of it’s operation. If you have any queries, comments, requests — I would love to hear from you.

Cheryl Courtney


I create and design the name puzzles and the other Kiddies puzzles that we have in our shop.

I also deal with the 40+ local crafters supplying their products to our shop.

Cyanne Courtney


To our dismay – Cyanne died in a car accident on 29 February 2020.

She was in our shop during the week and started up this website, spending many hours putting it together.

Gone but never forgotten.

Our Gallery


Here are a few images to show you our story and our products.