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Tarawera, meaning "the burnt cliff or peaks", is the name given to a mountain, a lake, a river and some falls near Rotorua in one of the more scenic parts of New Zealand.

Lake Tarawera is the source of the Tarawera river and is one of the best lakes in the district for trout fishing, both trolling and fly fishing. It is narrowish x-shaped lake, but around 10km (6 mi) in it's longest dimension, and sports a hot-water beach in one bay where there is some thermal activity.

Mount Tarawera was the site of one of the 19th century's largest volcanic eruptions on June 10, 1886. The eruption, which began shortly after 2:00am was heard up to 800km (500 mi) away from the mountain, although it was only recognised as an eruption from much closer.

The eruption of Tarawera covered much countryside in volcanic ash, including several Maori villages, the most notable of which, Te Wairoa, is now operated as a tourist attraction called the buried village (and well worth a visit if you're in the area). In fact most of the inhabitants of Te Wairoa survived the 2 metre (6 foot) layer of ash, unlike those of several other villages nearby.

Also buried were the Pink and White Terraces, at the time considered one of the natural wonders of the world. In fact the countryside was so changed by the eruption that nobody is really completely sure exactly where they were.

Ron Keam states in Tarawera, his 1988 life work on the eruption that:

    The Terraces had completely vanished. Almost all early visitors who viewed the great Rotomahana crater were convinced they had been destroyed. But so completely had the site and surroundings of Rotomahana been modified by the eruption that no one was able to prove the conviction.

The eruption was not confined to the mountain, with the largest of the four major craters actually in the bed of nearby lake Rotomahana. Nowadays a much larger lake than prior to the eruption, and the deepest lake in the North Island of New Zealand - 220 metres (650 feet) at its deepest.

Since the catastrophic eruption Tarawera has been dormant again. Nowadays it is possible to go on an excursion into the crater, and a four wheel drive track goes to the top of the mountain.

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