Living History

New Zealand's Greatest Natural Disaster

The eruption of Mount Tarawera in the early hours of June 10, 1886 was one of New Zealand’s greatest natural disasters. Just after midnight on June 10th, the people in Te Wairoa were woken by a sequence of earthquakes. Two hours later, a much larger earthquake was felt, followed by massive explosions. For more than four terrifying hours, rocks, ash and mud bombarded the peaceful village. 

The violent and unexpected eruption buried Te Wairoa and several smaller villages in the area under hot, heavy ash and mud. It completely destroyed the famous Pink and White Terraces, one of New Zealand’s first tourist attractions, and it changed the landscape dramatically. Around 150 people lost their lives. The exact number of casualties has never been determined.


Pink & White Terraces

House with the Golden Eyes

Smithy's Story

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