Destinations New Zealand Photography Travel stories

The Wairoa Buried Village

“Te Wairoa (also known as The Buried Village) is a deserted village located close to the shore of Lake Tarawera in New Zealand’s North Island. It was a Māori and European settlement founded in 1848 by the Reverend Seymour Mills Spencer where visitors would stay on their way to visit the Pink and White Terraces. The village was destroyed by the eruption of the volcano Mount Tarawera on June 10, 1886. 120 people died in the eruption, many of them in other villages closer to the volcano. The site of one of these villages (Kokotaia) was instrumental in the recent rediscovery of the Pink and White Terrace locations.” – source

Ever since my first visit to Rotorua in 2005, I’ve been fascinated by the Mount Tarawera eruption of June 10th 1886. The archaological site of the Te Wairoa was only about a fifteen minute drive from our hostel in Rotorua, so it was pretty much a no-brainer to go there this time around.

It was blissfully calm at the Buried Village with only a handful of people visiting. We bought our tickets and started with a guided tour by Ryan. After that introduction, we went on to explore the archaeological site. As a (non-practicing) archaeologist myself, this was heaven! Apart from the actual site itself with various remains and artefacts, the area was stunning and so lush in greens. You’d never tell this was once a bustling centre for tourism! The museum inside was nice too, with heaps of information about what had happened here.

After we had been all around the terrain, we sat down for a cuppa and I had the best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten in my life! It was at the gift shop at Te Wairoa that I bought my pounamu and had it blessed by Ryan. I’m still loving that piece so much!

We couldn’t visit this area and not go to Lake Tarawera, the place where it all went down. So we drove over and enjoyed the gorgeous lake.

My curiosity about this place has been satisfied (for now 😉 ) and I highly recommend a visit to the site of this huge natural disaster.

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