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Published January 11th 2016
New Zealand's most visited Archaeological Site
The pink and white terraces of New Zealand were natural wonders, sometimes referred to as the 8th wonders of the world. Relatively inaccessible, they were formed over time by layers of volcanic fallout, formed from deposited silica, and resulted in a series of hot and cold sinter pools, buttresses, terraces and geysers. In the mid 19th century, they were New Zealand's most popular tourist attraction with many luminaries of the time making the arduous journey to visit the terraces, staying at hotels in Te Wairoa, which quickly became a thriving village.
Te Wairoa Buried Village
A Model of the Terraces
On the 10th June 1886, the unexpected eruption of Mount Tarawera resulted in the near complete destruction of Te Wairoa, the obliteration of the pink and white terraces and the loss of more than 150 lives. There were no survivors from those living at Totarariki, Rotomahana, Tokiniho, Te Ariki, Moura and Waingongongo.
Museum Display at the Te Wairoa Buried Village
Another Museum Display
In 1931, Reg and Vi Smith arrived in Te Wairoa and over the following 85 years generations of the family have painstakingly excavated the site, which is now a major tourist attraction. Their efforts at developing the site are chronicled on information boards.
Part of the Ruins of Te Wairoa
Part of the Ruins of Te Wairoa
On entering The Buried Village, an extensive museum with information boards, video presentations, models and displays show artefacts from the era as well as stories and records of people living at Te Wairoa before and during the eruption. These include accounts from both visitors and locals in the area. iPods are available with further information accessible at every exhibit beyond that displayed at the exhibits themselves.
Upon leaving the museum area, visitors can walk around the Te Wairoa site to view Whares, ruins and additional restored buildings with displays showing a window into life in New Zealand in the late 19th century.
One of the Outdoor Exhibits at Te Wairoa
The Te Wairoa waterfall walkway is part of the walk and leads down to a cascading 30 metre waterfall amid mossy rocks, shaded by the verdant green canopy of tall trees. Magnificent views are available of the Scenic Reserve below.
In total The Buried Village walk will take around an hour, but going through the museum in detail easily doubles that time. Prices are NZD$26.00 for adults, NZD$10.00 for children aged 13 to 18 years and NZD$5.00 for children aged 5-12 years. As with most of the attractions in the area, a cafe and gift store are on site.
If you're looking for an interesting few hours of learning about the famous Pink and White Terraces of New Zealand, Te Wairoa, life in the late 19th century in the area, as well as having a pleasant walk through an outdoor museum, The Buried Village is a perfect alternative or addition to touring the natural geothermal wonders of the Rotorua region.