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Mount Tarawera, Rotorua Overview

Mount Tarawera is a famous attraction in Rotorua, New Zealand. It is an active volcano where some of the country’s most significant and destructive eruptions have occurred in the past — the notable ones being those that destroyed the Pink and White Terraces of Mount Tarawera. At present, the attraction is famous for hikes and a stunning view of Rotorua from the top of the mountain.

Mount Tarawera was once recognised as the eighth wonder of the world until the eruption of June 1886, which resulted in significant destruction of the terrain and the death of 120 locals nearby. Thirty high-intensity earthquakes followed the most powerful quake. An explosion around 2:00 AM accompanied it on the 10th of June, 1886. The blast affected several villages located within a radius of 6 kilometres. Volcanic ash was also seen in locations as far as 800 kilometres away. Scientists believe that a massive eruption in the 14th century resulted in temperature changes around the world and is also considered a possible reason for the Great Famine that struck Europe around the same year. Adventure freaks who know the region can come together, form a small group and head to the Peak. Tourists can contact one of the tour companies for a safe, guided and informative tour of the mountain. Locals often head to Mount Tarawera over a weekend. This attraction is usually included in the list of places that families can explore together.

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Best Time to Visit

Mount Tarawera can be explored in absolutely any season. It depends on what travellers want to experience. But, from a tourist point of view, the best time to explore this volcano is during the spring and autumn seasons as they are considerably dry seasons and the atmosphere is pretty comfortable.
Seasonal Variations
Springtime begins in September and lasts till November. The region experiences 21ᵒC to 13ᵒC and occasional rains. Autumn starts in March and lasts till May. The temperature becomes warmer during this season, between 26ᵒC and 14ᵒC. The best part about these seasons is that the mountain tops do not get foggy, allowing the hikers to get a great view of the surroundings.

Thing to Do at Mount Tarawera

Scenic Aesthetics
One can get a stunning view of Mount Tarawera from the shores of Lake Tarawera located at the base of the mountain. The lake is one of the 18 lakes located in the region and has pristine clear waters. Its beauty is doubled by the beautiful environment all around. Most hikers take a pitstop at this tranquil waterbody before moving ahead.
Hot Springs
On the northern shore of the lake are some hot water springs. This part of the lake is called the Hot Water Beach where people can enjoy watching the natural wonder. The shore is steamy, and the water is warm. So, one might enjoy a nice swim in the naturally heated waters here.
Hiking Trails
The area around the Tarawera Lake has several hiking trails that lead to the top of Mount Tarawera. The mountain has steep slopes leading to the Rhyolitic Lava Domes that were exposed during the 1886 volcanic eruptions.
Domes of the Terrain
The terrain consists of 3 domes, the Ruawahi Dome, the Wahanga Dome and the Tarawera Dome. Out of these, the Ruawahi Dome measures the tallest at the height of 1,111 metres. If people head to the right location on the mountain, they can even get a stunning view of the fissures that run in the northeast-southwest direction. These fissures are about 17 kilometres long. At the northern side of Mount Tarawera, one can also see River Tarawera flowing across the landscape.

Legend of Mount Tarawera

Legend of the Missing Canoe
A local legend states that about 11 days before the 1886 earthquake, a war canoe was seen by a group of tourists sailing across the lake, returning from Mount Tarawera. The war canoe seemed to be approaching the tourist boat, but it suddenly disappeared in the mist. A local Maori on the boat also experienced this vision.
Repercussions and Waka Wairua
The kind of war canoe they saw was not made or used by anyone living near that region. The tribal elders believed that it was a spirit canoe or "Waka Wairua". Locals also observed a drastic rise and fall of the water level of Lake Tarawera. They believed that the changes in the water level were caused due to the pre-eruption fissures which freed the burial canoe and brought doom to the land.
The Phantom Canoe Legend
This legend is also called the Phantom Canoe Legend. People still believe that another sighting of the spirit canoe will mean another day of massive eruptions.

How To Reach Mount Tarawera

Best Mode of Commute
Mount Tarawera is located about 24 kilometres from the city centre. The best way for tourists to reach and explore this attraction is with a tourist company. They usually arrange for hotel pick-ups and drops and also provide guides to explore the region.
For those wondering how to reach Rotorua, New Zealand roadways and the airways are the best modes of transport. Intercity buses ply regularly from neighbouring cities.
By Air
Flights to Rotorua Regional Airport are also frequently available in New Zealand. The tour companies arrange for a ride till the base of the mountain from where the group has to hike up.
Some companies also provide floatplane services. These flights take off and land at the Rotorua Lake and go over the Tarawera Lake till the mountain peak.

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