Te Wairoa Buried Village – Lake Tarawera, New Zealand - Atlas Obscura

Te Wairoa Buried Village

Lake Tarawera, New Zealand

A Maori village obliterated by an 1886 volcanic eruption. 


When Mount Tarawera erupted in June, 1889 the surrounding countryside was completely remade. New Zealand’s largest volcanic eruption killed over 100 people and created an entirely new landscape of steaming fumaroles, boiling mud, and deadly hot springs all inside the new caldera.

The village of Te Wairoa was established in 1848 by Christian missionaries as a model village. Sixty years after the eruption of Tarawera, the Smith family purchased the land and began excavating, looking for the remains of the lost village

Today visitors can explore the 12-acre site including the excavated village, museum, and a reconstruction of a pioneer era cottage.

Miraculously, the meeting house known as Hinemihi survived along with those who took shelter beneath its roof. In 1891 the meeting house was purchased for £50 and transported to England, where it remains at Clandon Park in Surrey to this day.


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