Lake Rotomahana

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Lake Roto
Lake Rotomahana black swan.jpg
Black swan on Lake Rotomahana
Location North Island
Coordinates 38°16′S 176°27′E / 38.267°S 176.450°E / -38.267; 176.450Coordinates: 38°16′S 176°27′E / 38.267°S 176.450°E / -38.267; 176.450
Lake type crater lake
Primary outflows none
Basin countries New Zealand
Max. length 6.2 km (3.9 mi)[1]
Max. width 2.8 km (1.7 mi)[1]
Surface area 8.0 km2 (3.1 sq mi)[1]
Average depth 51 m (167 ft)[1]
Max. depth 112.4 m (369 ft)[1]
Surface elevation 337 m (1,106 ft)[2]
References [1]

Lake Rotomahana is an 800-hectare (2,000-acre)[1] lake in northern New Zealand, located 20 kilometres to the south-east of Rotorua. It is immediately south-west of the dormant volcano Mount Tarawera, and its geography was substantially altered by a major 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera. Along with the mountain, it lies within the Okataina caldera.

Before the 1886 eruption, only two small lakes were present in the current lake's basin. Following the eruption, a number of craters filled over the course of 15 years to form today's Lake Rotomahana. It is the most recently formed larger natural lake in New Zealand, and the deepest in the Rotorua district. The lake's northern shore lies close to the 39 metres (128 ft) lower Lake Tarawera, separated by less than 700 metres (2,300 ft) of terrain that is mostly material from the 1886 eruption. Lake Rotomahana has no natural outlet, and its water level varies by about one meter in response to rainfall and evaporation.[3]

The lake is a wildlife refuge, with all hunting of birds prohibited. A healthy population of black swan inhabits the lake, and there are efforts underway to ensure the lake's largest island, Patiti Island, is kept pest-free.[4] There is no public access to the lake.

A boat cruise on the lake, visiting hydrothermal features on the lake's shore, is available as an additional extra from the Waimangu Volcanic Valley tourism operation.

Steaming cliffs on the shore of Lake Rotomahana

Pink and White Terraces[edit]

The Pink and White Terraces were a natural wonder on the shores of the lake before the 1886 eruption. They were considered to be the eighth wonder of the natural world and were New Zealand's most famous tourist attraction during the mid 19th century, but were buried or destroyed by the eruption.[5]

Scientists thought they had rediscovered the lower tiers of the Pink and White Terraces on the lake bed at a depth of 60 metres (200 ft) in 2011.[6] More recent research reports in 2016 and 2017 suggest the upper parts of both terraces lie on land and may therefore be accessed for physical evidence the terraces or sections of them survived in their original locations.[7][8]

The 2017 research relied on the journals of German-Austrian geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter, who visited the lake in 1859.[9] Hochstetter's journals are the only known survey of the terraces before the eruption.[10] Using Hochstetter's field diaries and compass data, a team of New Zealand researchers identified a location where they believe the Pink and White Terraces lie preserved at a depth of 10–15 metres (32–49 ft).[11] The researchers were hoping to raise funds for a full survey of the area, but any work would first have to be approved by the local Maori tribe on whose sacred ancestral land the Pink and White Terraces are situated.[12][10][13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Lowe, D.J., Green, J.D. (1987). Viner, A.B., ed. Inland waters of New Zealand. Wellington: DSIR Science Information Publishing Centre. pp. 471–474. ISBN 0-477-06799-9. 
  2. ^ LINZ Topo50 Map BF37
  3. ^ Information panel at Lake Rotomahana's shore
  4. ^ "Patiti Island Environmental Restoration". Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Retrieved 2014-12-30. 
  5. ^ "Eighth wonder of world 'rediscovered' in New Zealand". The Independent. 2017-06-12. Retrieved 2018-03-30. 
  6. ^ Wylie, Robin (28 April 2016). "A natural wonder lost to a volcano has been rediscovered". earth. BBC. 
  7. ^ Bunn, Rex; Nolden, Sascha (2017-06-07). "Forensic cartography with Hochstetter's 1859 Pink and White Terraces survey: Te Otukapuarangi and Te Tarata". Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand. 0 (0): 1–18. doi:10.1080/03036758.2017.1329748. ISSN 0303-6758. 
  8. ^ Bunn & Nolden, Rex & Sascha (December 2016). ""Te Tarata and Te Otukapuarangi: Reverse engineering Hochstetter's Lake Rotomahana Survey to map the Pink and White Terrace locations"". Journal of New Zealand Studies. NS23: 37–53. 
  9. ^ Jennings, Ken. "Did the 8th Wonder of the World Survive?". Condé Nast Traveler. Retrieved 2018-03-30. 
  10. ^ a b "The Quest to Rediscover New Zealand's Lost Pink and White Terraces". Atlas Obscura. 2017-09-06. Retrieved 2018-03-30. 
  11. ^ Roy, Eleanor Ainge (2017-06-12). "Lost natural wonder in New Zealand may be found, say researchers". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-03-30. 
  12. ^ "The missing eighth wonder of the world has been found". NewsComAu. Retrieved 2018-03-30. 
  13. ^ "Pink and White Terraces discovery announcement premature, says iwi". Stuff. Retrieved 2018-03-30. 

External links[edit]