New Zealand researchers Dr. Rex Bunn and Dr. Sascha Nolden claim to have found the location where New Zealand’s eighth wonder of the world, the Pink and White Terraces of Lake Rotomahana, is apparently buried since June 10, 1886, when it was lost to the world in the Tarawera eruption.
The 1886 eruption at Lake Rotomahana on New Zealand’s North Island was so intense that it is said to have released as much energy as the Tsar Bomba, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated.
120 lives were lost and the mountain was split into two with a 17-kilometer crack running across it.
Based on the information gleaned from the 1859 field diaries of Ferdinand von Hochstetter a German-Austrian geologist, Bunn and Nolden were able to plot three potential terrace locations.
Contrary to the belief of the 19th-century colonists, the researchers are convinced that the eighth wonder is beneath terra firma and not Lake Rotomahana.
“This paper maps their original locations based on reverse engineering unpublished 1859 survey data from Ferdinand von Hochstetter.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,” Journal of New Zealand Studies, Issue 23 (2016), by Bunn, Rex; Nolden, Sascha.
The beautiful formation of the Terraces was due to the slow accumulation of silica-rich deposits from ancient geothermal springs giving it the distinctive pink and white hue.
The Pink and White Terraces “became the greatest tourist attraction in the southern hemisphere and the British Empire, and shiploads of tourists made the dangerous visit down from the U.K., Europe and America to see them,” Bunn told the Guardian.
“But they were never surveyed by the government of the time, so there was no record of their latitude or longitude,” he added.
Known as the “fountain of the clouded sky” (pink) and the “tattooed rock” (white), the terraces were believed to have been completely obliterated – until now.
The recent findings, however, have rekindled hopes, not for the first time though, that the eighth wonder might actually be intact – buried 10-15 meters underneath layers of ash and mud from the devastating eruption of Tarawera.
In 2011, scientists claimed to have found the remains of the terraces deep beneath Lake Rotomahana. However, five years into the research, New Zealand GNS Science arrived at the “inescapable conclusion” that most of the Pink and White Terraces had been destroyed on that fateful day in 1886.
According to the New Zealand Herald, Anaru Rangiheuea, a local Tuhourangi kaumatua — an elected Maori elder- has reservations about the new findings.
“They won’t find the terraces,” he said.
“A few years back we worked with geologists who thought they could see remnants of them, but to recover them is virtually impossible,” he added.
The researchers have urged the concerned authorities to authorize a geological investigation to confirm the existence of the Terraces.
While many of the indigenous Maori of the time were killed in the eruption, the survivors moved away never to come back, leaving behind an unsolved mystery that would take 131 years to have a hope of a closure.
Dr. Rex Bunn has lived at Lake Okareka, overlooking Mt Tarawera, for the last 20 years spending his summers and Easters at the site of Lake Rotomahana as a child.
“I pursue inter-disciplinary research projects, where specialists either haven’t ventured or where specialists for whatever reasons haven’t succeeded,” he said.
“I began the terraces project in 2014 while researching the Pink and White Terraces for an artist.”
Dr. Bunn met Dr. Sascha Nolden in February 2016, who became his co-researcher and co-author in the Terraces project.