New Zealand’s most visited archaeological site where stories of the 1886 Tarawera Eruption come to life.
Violent and unexpected, the volcanic eruption of Mt Tarawera on 10 June 1886 was one of New Zealand's greatest natural disasters. For more than four terrifying hours rocks, ash, and mud bombarded the peaceful village of Te Wairoa ending more than 150 lives and destroying the eighth wonder of the world - the Pink and White Terraces BUT it doesn't end there...
Thanks to the sensitive redevelopment by three generations of the Smith family, you can see what life was like at the village before, during, and after the eruption.
Museum of Te Wairoa
Established in 1999, the world-class museum houses a large collection of objects excavated over the past 80 years from the Mt Tarawera eruption, and exhibits the early settlers to Te Wairoa.
With excavations starting in 1931, the archaeological site reveals the devastation of the eruption. Each site is explained in detail through informative signs. Explore and walk amongst the very sites that once housed the people of Te Wairoa. The people are gone but their spirits remain.
To gain unique insights of stories of Te Wairoa, take the optional guided tour (included in admission). Our knowledgeable guides will provide you with powerful stories and recollections of Te Wairoa that cannot be forgotten.
Electronic Tour Devices
If you prefer to self-guide then use one of our electronic tour devices for free! At each site a detailed video will explain the significant stories of Te Wairoa - whether it be before, during, or after the eruption.
The trail allows visitors to see the stunning Te Wairoa stream and Wairere Falls. Te Wairoa stream flows from the Green Lake to Lake Tarawera in which wild trout swim freely down the crystal clear water. The Wairere Falls is an exciting walk down to the base where you will be thrilled as you stand in the spray from the waterfall as it plunges 30 metres over the Waitoharuru cliffs.
Vi’s Teahouse & Gift Store
Both Vi’s Teahouse and Gift store were established in 1931. Vi Smith reopened the Te Wairoa Tearooms serving her famous Devonshire teas, and scones. Today, Vi’s Teahouse is just as renowned as it once was - serving Devonshire Tea, excellent coffee, and a selection of delicious home baking. The Gift Store provides Rotorua’s most comprehensive collections of authentic carved objects in bone, greenstone, and native timber; along with greenstone and bone carved jewellery.
Not to fear, there is plenty of fun for the whole family to see and do around the village. Children can explore the village with Smithy the Archaeologist, dig in the discovery room, and enjoy time on the playground.