App reveals world-famous Pink and White Terraces

Augmented reality (AR) is giving visitors the chance to experience the magic of New Zealand’s world-famous Pink and White Terraces for the first time in over 130 years

The geological formations, 20km from Rotorua and once known as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, were obliterated by the devastating Mt Tarawera eruption in 1886.


Now they’ve been brought to life again with a specially developed app launched by Waimangu Volcanic Valley, an eco-tourism experience. After downloading the free app, visitors can take one of the daily cruises across Lake Rotomahana to the site of the terraces. They then hold up their device to discover the site’s hidden secrets.

Old reference photos and paintings have been used to re-create the terraces in AR along with work by early explorers and scientists.  

One visitor described the app as "a really beautiful reproduction of the Pink and White terraces. It’s very interactive and you can move around the structures and appreciate how the light, silica and water would have interacted on the real thing."

Waimangu Volcanic Valley general manager David Blackmore says although AR isn’t new, the technology available through the devices is. "Having the old images brought to life by the latest in technology is really something to see," he said.

The terraces formed over thousands of years as silica-rich water emerging from springs and boiling geysers crystallised into giant tiered staircases. The White Terrace covered more than three hectares, while the smaller Pink Terrace was used for bathing on the lower levels.

The app also reveals geological insights into other features like the now-extinct Waimangu Geyser, which played in the valley between 1900 and 1904. It was known to erupt to over 400 metres – roughly the same size as the Empire State Building.

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