The Lost Eighth Wonder Of The World May Have Finally Been Rediscovered

Published June 13, 2017
Updated October 28, 2020

The Pink and White Terraces of New Zealand were buried in a volcanic eruption 130 years ago. Now, researchers think they've found them again.

Pink And White Terraces Rediscovered

Charles Blomfield/Wikimedia CommonsPink and White Terraces of New Zealand (1886).

The Pink and White Terraces were stunningly beautiful mineral formations that cascaded down the banks of Lake Rotomahana in New Zealand’s North Island.

They were the pride of the country and a major tourist attraction for thousands of well-to-do people in Victorian times. They were even referred to as the Eighth Natural Wonder of the World.

Then, on the morning of June 10, 1886, a nearby volcano erupted.

120 people were killed and, as craters opened up on the lake’s floor, the water began to boil and ash bubbled up to the surface.

By the time the Earth stopped trembling, mourning survivors were shocked to see that their precious natural treasures — and the lake that they had bordered — had both completely vanished.

The Terraces, New Zealanders were forced to conclude, had either been blown apart by the blast or permanently entombed in a case of volcanic mud.

Now, 131 years later, researchers are claiming to have proved them wrong.

Rex Bunn and Dr. Sascha Nolden believe they have discovered where the Terraces are buried on the foreshore of the lake.

They based their findings on the diaries of a German-Austrian geologist.

“Our research relied on the only survey ever made of that part of New Zealand and therefore we are confident the cartography is sound,” Bunn said. “Hochstetter was a very competent cartographer.”

Now, they’re setting out to uncover them. But they need $70,000 to get started.

“We want to undertake this work in the public interest,” Bunn said. “And I have been closely liaising with the ancestral owners of the land, the Tuhourangi Tribal Authority, and they are supportive and delighted with the work.”

The researchers’ claim contradicts another team of scientist’s 2011 “inescapable conclusion” that the terraces had been destroyed in the eruption.

The Terraces were thought to be the largest formations of silica sinter — a type of quartz — to have ever existed. One was a dazzling white while the other was tinted pink due to some kind of chemical shift.

White Terraces

Charles Blomfiled/Wikimedia CommonsThe White Terraces (1884)

Looking at photos from the 1800s, it’s easy to understand why New Zealanders are so excited at the prospect of seeing them again.

Since Bunn and Nolden’s findings were published, they’ve received daily offers from people who want to personally help with the expedition.

They’re now working to assemble a team that they hope will make this natural wonder see the sun again.

Next, check out 17 of the most unbelievable places you’ll find on Earth. Then, discover some of the the best hidden wonders of the United States.

All That's Interesting
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Gabe Paoletti
Gabe Paoletti is a New York City-based writer and a former Editorial Intern at All That's Interesting. He holds a Bachelor's in English from Fordham University.