Bringing back the Pink and White Terraces

Bringing back the Pink and White Terraces


Waimangu Volcanic Valley has launched an augmented reality (AR) app that will allow visitors to experience the Pink and White Terraces for the first time since they were destroyed in the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera.
 
Visitors can now download the app to discover the valley’s hidden secrets, including the geological formations that were once known as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
 
The AR experience was developed using a variety of resources, including work from early explorers Ferdinand von Hochstetter and Charles Spencer, work by GNS Science and the latest locational research by NIWA.
 
Waimangu Volcanic Valley general manager, David Blackmore says old reference photos and paintings have also been used to re-create the terraces in AR.
 
“AR is not new, but the technology we have available to us through our devices is and this is what has made the recreation of the terraces possible. Having the old images brought to life by the latest in technology is really something to see.”
 
Waimangu Volcanic Valley chairman, Alan Skipwith says it will be amazing to see modern visitors experience the re-created terraces from the boat Ariki Moana on its daily cruises.
 
“For many New Zealanders, the Pink and White Terraces formed part of the classroom curriculum,” he says.
 
“While for international visitors, they’re intriguing because so many European travellers gathered on its shores to experience the natural spa and health benefits the terraces provided, as well as the mystery about where they are now.
 
“This is the closest we can get to restoring the natural taonga of Te Tarata and Otukapuarangi.”
 
The app that brings the famous site back to life was built by a local Rotorua company Digital Elements along with Specialist Apps in Australia.
 
One of the creators, Leon Thomas from Digital Elements says AR doesn’t replace real life in the way VR headsets do, instead it adds a layer of interest and excitement over what is already visible.
 
“Through a process of computer-generated graphics and cutting-edge software, AR can give visitors an enriched experience in a way that brings them into the picture,” he says.
 
“Locations of interest are geo-tagged, so once you’ve got the app, your device will let you know when there is something you can see through AR.”
 
Although the Pink and White Terraces will be a key attraction, the app also reveals fascinating geological insights like the now-extinct Waimangu Geyser, which regularly played in the valley between 1900 and 1904. The geyser was known to erupt to heights of over 400 metres – roughly the same size as the Empire State Building.
 
The app is free to download on Apple and Android devices.