Left field thinking

If you’re ever short of a laugh or two – try this Listener brain teaser on your friends:

‘You have a wolf, a goat and a cabbage and you need to get all three across a river in one piece. You have a boat, but it’s so small that it can fit only you and one of the items and you can’t leave the wolf and the goat, or the goat and the cabbage alone together. How do you get them all across?’

Most of us failed – though we got past the first stage. Our friends did the same, but succeeded with repeated and hilarious solutions as they grappled with the question: Sample:

1) Promise the wolf three goats on the other side (if he doesn’t eat his fellow traveller goat).

2) Tie the cabbage to the boat and the goat will chase the cabbage and the wolf will chase the goat.

3) Tell the wolf the cabbage thinks he (the wolf) doesn’t have the willpower to not eat the goat (a bit of bush psychology).

4) Let the goat eat the cabbage. They can then travel together in the boat. Then the goat regurgitates the cabbage. Then go get the wolf.

5) Plant a cabbage seed and come back when there are two cabbages.

6)  Kill the goat.

7) Wait for the river to dry up…



but the real answer is more logical than funny…

  1. You take the goat over.
  2. You take the wolf over and bring the goat back.
  3. You leave the goat and take the cabbage over.
  4. You go and bring back the goat.


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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.