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Researchers may have rediscovered ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ in New Zealand

Two researchers believe they have located the buried Pink and White Terraces, a natural formation which was destroyed more than a century ago.

The Pink and White Terraces of Lake Rotomahan in New Zealand’s North Island were cascading pools made up of silica-rich deposits created by geothermal springs.

Strikingly coloured, the terraces must have been quite a sight because they were referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” and drew major crowds in the mid-1800s. They are known by the Maori community as Te Tarata (“the tattooed rock”).

“They became the greatest tourist attraction in the southern hemisphere and the British Empire, and shiploads of tourists made the dangerous visit down from the UK, Europe and America to see them,” Rex Bunn, one of the researchers told The Guardian.

“But they [the terraces] were never surveyed by the government of the time, so there was no record of their latitude or longitude.” he added.

We don’t have any photographs of the Terraces, but some folks sat down and painted them. Pretty. You could have seen them for yourself if it wasn’t for a pesky volcanic eruption in 1886 that destroyed them.

Blomfield's "White Terraces, Rotomahana" (1897)

Blomfield’s ‘White Terraces, Rotomahana’ (1897)

Bunn teamed up with Dr Sasha Nolden and, with the help of a 19th-century diary, they claim to have deduced the location of the terraces 131 years after they disappeared.

In their paper published in the Journal of New Zealand Studies this month, Bunn and Nolden pinpointed the location of the Terraces beneath land, rather than under Lake Rotomahana as was previously thought.

The diary in question belonged to Ferdinand von Hochstetter, a German-Austrian geologist who had written a description of the location in 1859.

Nolden, who had been curating a Hochstetter exhibition at the Auckland City Library, translated the diary from German. He and Bunn then reverse-engineered the compass survey data, working backwards to figure out the location.

Bunn told Stuff.co.nz that the findings were exciting and that the next steps will be decided by the local Tuhourangi Tribal Authority, who are custodians of the area. Bunn is also seeking funding for further research with the hope that an excavation of the site will uncover the natural wonder.

“The Pink and White Terraces may in some small way return, to delight visitors to Rotorua as they did in the nineteenth century,” he added.

The current Seven Natural Wonders of the World are:

  • Aurora Borealis
  • The Grand Canyon
  • The Great Barrier Reef
  • The Harbour of Rio de Janeiro
  • Mount Everest
  • Paricutin
  • Victoria Falls
  • About the author

    Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

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