Reputed as a natural spa destination, Rotorua is visited by a large number of travellers every year. It is most popular for its magnificent Lake Rotorua, which is surrounded by stunning scenery of geothermal wonders. From forests to mountains, there is much to see in this glorious city, where one can also experience the vibrant culture of the indigenous people.
Among the historic sites in the city, the village of Te Wairoa is perhaps the finest attraction, which provides a glimpse into the humble way of life of the Te Wairoa people. Today, it is a living museum, which perfectly captures the story of the small village.
Tracing back to its history, the village of Te Wairoa was destroyed when Mount Tarawera erupted in 1886. According to history, the village was buried under a thick layer of volcanic ash, which managed to preserve some of the buildings of the village. The excavators managed to dig up a few other features distinct to the village to create an experience of New Zealand in the 19th century.
Dedicated to the village people of Te Wairoa, the ruins of the village were excavated to provide visitors an insight to the pandemonium that transpired on that fateful day. As an appreciation towards the village people and their culture, it tells the story of how the village people lived their life and how they faced the mayhem and chaos during the eruption. Regarded as a moving and emotional journey, it is a unique experience of New Zealand’s history.
Today, it sprawls across 12 acres, encompassing a number of attractions for the traveller to explore. Brimming with native birds, tall trees and meadows, the buried village is similar to a park, where one can traverse along scenic pathways and catch a glimpse of the untamed wilderness of Wairere Falls.
One of the attractions within the Buried Village is the Museum of Te Wairoa. The museum was founded in 1999 and features a large collection of artefacts which have been collected over a span of 80 years. The exhibits portray the past of the Te Wairoa settlement, which includes an audiovisual presentation. In addition, there is a Children’s Discovery Room as well as a volcanology and archaeology section.
Arguably the highlight will be the Archaeological Section, which began excavation in the early 1930s. The buildings have been restored to their original allure, which include structures such as the stone store, The Blacksmiths Workshop, The Flour Mill, The Schoolhouse, The Whare, The Blacksmiths House and Tohunga’s Whare.