Day #3 – A Morning In Rotorua

After our fabulous day and evening yesterday learning about the Māori people we decided we’d take today to explore some other parts of this fabulous city. Our day started with a stroll through Kauri Park. This is a public park in the area. While there are many places where you are likely to see more visual and explosive views of the geothermal activity, this particular place is free of charge whereas most of these sites charge big dollars to just walk around and explore them. It does seem that everywhere you go in this country someone has their hand out waiting for you to drop some coin so today we decided to do at least one activity that was gratis!

The park is rather large and has lots of pathways leading you around ponds, bubbling pools, steam pits and hot mud ponds. These areas are all cordoned off to prevent visitors from getting too close to the super heated pools. Today the park is filled with visitors. Most of them are Asian. With Chinese New Year on the horizon we can only assume they are all on holiday here as there are literally busloads of Asian people all around. The kids are bounding about, laughing and running from pool to pool. Parents are busy taking photographs of their munchkins and Dan and Jack take the opportunity to have some fun getting in their pictures with them.

After walking through a great deal of the park we come back to the car park where they are having some sort of market. It’s almost over but we take a few minutes to walk through and see what they have to offer. Mostly it’s like a flea market or swap meet with several vendors selling secondhand clothes and others peddling their fresh vegetables or fair food. We pick up a couple of skewers of grilled pork and a few fresh avocados or as they are called here, “avos” and we finish our tour.

Our next stop is the Buried Village of Te Wairoa, New Zealand’s most visited archeological site. As per their website and information, Mt. Tawarera was an amazing place in its time.

“Before Mt Tarawera erupted in the early hours of June 10th, 1886, the Pink and White Terraces on the shores of Lake Rotomahana were considered to be the eighth wonder of the world, and attracted tourists from far and wide. The terraces had formed over approximately 500 years, as silica rich water flowed down the hillside from boiling geysers. The water cooled and crystallised into the terraces and pools, forming giant staircases or waterfalls.

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The White Terrace was the larger formation, covering 3 hectares and descending 30 metres. The Pink Terrace was where people went to bathe on the lower levels because the temperature of the water was lukewarm.

When Mount Tarawera erupted on June 10th, 1886, Lake Rotomahana also erupted, destroying the terraces. and several other smaller villages. Photographs and paintings were all that was thought to have remained of these beautiful natural wonders. 

Just after midnight on June 10th, the people of Te Wairoa were woken by a sequence of smaller earthquakes, followed by a much larger one, and finally massive explosions. For more than four terrifying hours, rocks, ash and mud bombarded the peaceful village. These were hours of loss and total devastation.

With the loss of this beautiful natural wonder came a sobering reality. The Tarawera eruption changed the New Zealand landscape dramatically and resulted in the loss of around 150 lives. This was to become New Zealand’s greatest natural disaster. 

Yet, a hope of re-discovery exists. In February 2011 scientists announced that they had found what they believe to be part of the Pink Terraces, 60m under water in Lake Rotomahana.” *(1)

The museum was quite informative with lots of great exhibits and the park itself was rather beautiful. While the cost for entry at $35 NZD per adult might seem a bit steep, we really did enjoy our afternoon there and were glad we spent the money. The first part of the walk was a guided tour where the young man who had only been working there a short time provided us with some great history of the area. We toured some of the huts and saw tools and other items they’ve recovered in their excavation of the area.

It was almost like walking through “Little House On The Prairie” only with thatched roof huts instead of log cabins. The scenery was beautiful and we had an amazing day for it. The sun was out and it was warm enough to take off our jackets and enjoy the heat for a change. We saw beautiful flowers, interesting insects and even stopped to rest and dip our toes in the cool waters of the creek.

We walked along this delightful little creek that eventually ran into a large waterfall. At this juncture Jack, Mary and Jilly headed back to the Tea Room while Dan ventured on to see the big waterfall. The terrain was a bit muddy and steep for the rest of us but Dan was determined to get some photos of this beauty.

After a few hours here we decided it was time to get a bite to eat and then head to our next adventure…the 3D Trick Art Gallery. What fun we had exploring and playing at this great place.

Check back tomorrow to see some of the amazing pics we took there.


Jilly & Dan


Author: Dan & Jilly

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