Nobody would have believed in June 10 1886, that the serenity enjoyed by the inhabitants of Te Wairoa would be shattered by an outpouring of the Earth’s fury.
Violent and unexpected, the eruption was New Zealand’s greatest natural disaster. For more than four terrifying hours, rocks, ash and boiling hot mud bombarded the peaceful village. The fiery glow in the night sky and the thunderous roar of the explosions were seen and heard as far away as Auckland.
In the gloom of the day, the wreckage of the hotels and houses, and the burial of 5000 square miles of scenic countryside brought awe and dismay to rescuers. The eruption destroyed the Terraces and buried Te Wairoa and two smaller villages under hot heavy ash and mud. More than 150 lives were lost.
Reginald and Violet Smith having acquired the property in 1931 renovated the Te Wairoa Tearooms and began excavating some of the 60 buildings buried beneath the rock, ash, and mud.
By the 1950’s, managed by their son Dudley Smith, the Buried Village incorporated the Tarawera Lakes District’s Post Office and General Store. Today, current manager’s Pam (Dudley’s daughter) and her husband Pat McGrath continue developing this unique attraction – adding the interactive, educational and world – class, Museum of Te Wairoa. (est.1999)
For over 70 years now the Buried Village has preserved, showcased, and interpreted the stories behind the pioneering village of Te Wairoa, and is in itself one of the oldest tourism attractions in Rotorua and New Zealand.
Some of the Buried Village’ s Attractions:
– Museum of Te Wairoa
– Buried Village Excavated Sites
– War Canoe
– Trout Stream
– Te Wairoa Waterfalls Track