Technology brings back pink and white terraces for new tourism experience
Augmented Reality (AR) is giving visitors the chance to experience the majesty of New Zealand’s world-famous Pink and White Terraces for the first time since they disappeared in the late 19th century.
The geological formations, 20 km from Rotorua, were once known as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ were obliterated by the devastating Mount Tarawera eruption in 1886.
Now the terraces have been brought to life again with a specially-developed app launched by Waimangu Volcanic Valley, an eco-tourism experience. Visitors can download the free app and experience the magic of the re-created terraces on daily cruises across Lake Rotomahana to the place where the terraces once were. They simply have to hold up their device to explore the site and discover its 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.
A visitor trying out the app on the first day of its release described the experience 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 said that although AR is not new, the technology available through the devices is and that’s what has made the recreation of the terraces possible. “Having the old images brought to life by the latest in technology is really something to see,” he said.
The Pink and White 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.
As well as bringing the terraces to life, the app also reveals fascinating geological insights into other features like the now-extinct Waimangu Geyser, which regularly played in the valley between 1900 and 1904. The geyser was known to erupt to heights of over 400 metres – roughly the same size as the Empire State Building.
The new app experience is expected to spark interest with domestic and international visitors because of the mystery surrounding the location of the terraces today and their history.
The fabled Pink and White Terraces were once a thriving tourist destination attracting intrepid travellers from around the world to view the ‘eighth wonder’ and gather on the terrace shores to experience the natural spa and health benefits.
The app was produced by a local Rotorua company in conjunction with an Australian apps specialist and has been in development since early 2018.
May 24, 2019