Te Tarata and Te Otukapuarangi: Reverse engineering Hochstetter’s Lake Rotomahana Survey to map the Pink and White Terrace locations


  • Rex Bunn
  • Sascha Nolden




The Pink and White Terraces were New Zealand’s eighth wonder of the world, until the Tarawera eruption on 10 June 1886 engulfed them. Without pre-eruption survey data, scientific and government teams failed to relocate the terraces, which were assumed lost. Over 2011-2012 GNS Science announced the rediscovery of parts of both terraces in Lake Rotomahana: however, by 2016 they resiled these claims, concluding the majority of both terraces destroyed.

This paper maps their original locations based on reverse engineering unpublished 1859 survey data from Ferdinand von Hochstetter. Evidence suggests the locations may have survived the eruption, with the terraces buried in ash, crossing the shoreline on land not subject to local volcanic cratering. Excavation is conceivable. The Pink and White Terraces may again delight visitors in Rotorua via the Terraces Track, complementing the world-class New Zealand walking tracks.


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