The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 8 (February 1, 1933)
The Great Eruption
The Great Eruption.
To the north, rearing itself almost out of the lake, rises Mount Tarawera. With its square, dark, cavernous top, it is altogether a grim mountain, reminding you strongly of that picture you so often see of Napoleon with his square chin, brooding, terrible and implacable. So that the story of the eruption of 1886, if you have not already heard it, causes you no surprise. At that time Rotomahana was only one-thirtieth of its present size, and on the shore opposite the mountain lay the Pink and White Terraces, justly celebrated as the Eight Wonder of the world. Round about were Maori settlements. But even in this scene of perfect peace and beauty, Nature was playing a dual role. During a peaceful night in June, Tarawera suddenly let hell loose for many miles around, the Pink and White Terraces, and the lake vanished, great areas of vegetation were ruined, and many Maoris killed. Guide Warbrick, who until recently conducted the Government launch, was near at hand on that occasion, can give you a more vivid account of it than anyone else Imagine four blazing craters, and the air thick with flying debris 1 Ghastly flames rolling up out of the intense darkness, making it more horrible! But the main suggestion to-day of that disaster is the grim mountain still crouched brooding and sinister against the sky. Underneath him the gleaming waters of Rotomahana ripple peacefully. While the Pink and White Terraces are gone for ever, the steaming cliffs in their former vicinity, are a weird and remarkable sight For a short distance this amazing thermal activity extends even to the lake, which boils and bubbles under the keel of the launch. It is not merely the hundreds of jets and wreaths of steam curling up and intertwining that hold your fascinated gaze, for the brilliant rainbow colours of the cliffs are almost as attractive. These colours are produced by chemical action. Under the shadow of Tarawera, you leave the launch, take a pleasant walk through a wide grove of trees, and join the launch on Lake Tarawera. The incline leading to the lake is still thickly strewn with cinders and volcanic ash, eloquent testimony to the eruption of 1886. A launch trip of several miles now passes very pleasantly, and you step on shore again at Wairoa to join the motor car back to Rotorua. As you pass through Wairoa, you can see the remains of the buried village of that name, another relic of 1886. A portion of an old hotel still exists, and the guide will point out other fragments, strange, stark skeletons, fitting very ill into the present peaceful and beautiful surroundings. After the eruption the inhabitants, or rather the survivors, decamped in all haste and founded new homes near Whakarewarewa. It is interesting that among these Maoris were the grandparents of Rangi, perhaps the most famous of the present-day guides.
Wairoa, however, is not the last of the day's wonders, for you have yet to see the blue and the green lakes, strikingly true to their names on a bright day, and lastly the Tikitapu Bush, which, wonderfully green and luxuriant as it is now, bears no trace of the destruction it suffered in 1886.page 37