Bubbling hot springs, geysers, splatting mud pots, unbelievable color, and cooking volcanos…this is the geothermal description of the 160,000 year old Taupo Volcanic Zone.
Mt Tarawera – A Catastrophic Event
June 10, 1886
In 1886, a massive six-hour eruption covered 15,000 square kilometers (5,791 sq. miles) and tore a 17km (10.5mi) rift in the terrain. In a single night of fire, everything was wiped from the face of the mountain. Over 120 people died.
After midnight, the mountain cracked open with a roar. Booms heard and felt across both North and South Islands. “A striking spectacle of a dark, flat-topped mountain more than a mile long, red hot along its crest, and surmounted by a wall of fire 1,500 ft high.”Henry Roche, Eyewitness, 1886
Mt. Tarawera Crater Hike
With a guide from the iwi (tribe) of Rangitihi, we hiked Mt. Tarawera crater. A 4-wheel excursion from Rotorua, then two hours walking to the volcanic peak through a chilling mist. (Kaitiaki Adventures)
“Keep Left or Die” – A steep, sliding descent into 90 degree left turn on a narrow ledge. At the corner, our guide firmly planted his feet to ensure you made the turn..but, if not, would have likely gone down with you.
A 17km (10.5mi) rift
The rift that split Tarawera created 10 craters, 2 of which are still active, and the world’s youngest geothermal valley, Waimangu.
Scree Run: From the summit, we moon-walked/ran down a steep sandy/rocky slope of scree into one of the volcanic craters. To stay upright, slam your heels into the scree to avoid a tumble.
The Punisher: From the crater bottom, our guides Ben and Tipene, (Māori for “Steve”) advised it was just a “pop up to the top”…via the ‘Punisher’, a deep sandy, rocky mix path. It was aptly named.
More Fire Demons down the road – Not If…WHEN
Ninety miles south of Mt. Tarawera (as the crow flies) are three active volcanos in Tongariro National Park. The park, near Taupo/Tauranga is the home of the Whakapapa (faka papa) Ski Resort on Mt. Ruapehu, and the Tongariro Crossing, “the best day hike in the world” (18 km – Must Do).
Most Recent Eruptions
- Mt Ruapehu September 25, 2007, a 7 minute explosive eruption that coincided with the ski season at Whakapapa. Prior – 1996.
- Mt Ngauruhoe (aka Mt. Doom from Lord of the Rings) 1993 through 1995. Prior – 1973.
- Mt Tongariro – Dormant from late 1800’s until 2012 – August 6 and November 21, 2012.
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