Underwater explorers seek lost New Zealand wonders

A team of underwater explorers has begun a search of Lake Rotomohana in New Zealand to discover the fate of a natural wonder that has been missing for nearly 125 years. The group will use high tech equipment, including submersible vehicles, to map the bottom of the lake to determine what has become of the fabled Pink and White Terraces, which were popular tourist attractions until they were destroyed during an eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886.

The recently got under way when scientists first began the mapping process and the torpedo shaped submersibles were dropped into the water to aid in that process. They hope to discover if any portion of the Pink and White Terraces, which have been described as the “8th Wonder of the World,” remain intact under the surface of the lake.

Until they were destroyed in the volcanic eruption, the Terraces were New Zealand’s number one tourist attraction. Many visitors from Europe made the journey to the country in the 1880’s just to gaze upon the amazing site. The Terraces were created by geothermally heated water, containing high amounts of silica, spouting out of geysers. As that water flowed down the slopes, the silica was left behind, giving the terraces their pink and white color.

On June 10, 1886, Mt. Tarawa violently erupted, spewing ash into the sky and sending hot mud into Lake Rotomohana. That mud covered the terraces and altered the surrounding landscape, causing the water in the lake to rise and changing the geothermal activity in the region forever.

New Zealand tourist officials, as well as local Maori leaders, are interested in knowing if any portion of the terraces still stand. They’ll have to wait for up to 12 months however, as that’s how long the scientists on the research team believe it’ll take to complete their survey.