The Buried Village of Te Wairoa is a historical site located near Lake Tarawera and a short drive from Rotorua, New Zealand. The settlement built-in 1848 was later destroyed by the 1886 volcanic eruption of Mount Tarawera killing 120 people. Multiple generations of the Smith Family have owned the land and conducted the excavating and artifact preservation. The experience includes: an enclosed museum located off the front entrance, a walk through the 12 acre archaeological site, optional hike to the stunning Wairere Waterfall and concludes at the cafe/playground.
The girls and I drove to Rotorua one weekend recently to enjoy some of the popular tourist attractions before our move to Australia. We included the Buried Village on our trip! Our afternoon began with tea on the patio while the kids played on the playground. I will say that the afternoon cafe choices were limited so might be a good idea to eat before arrival. The kids’ food options were nonexistent except for the ice cream bars. They loved the playground though!
Once we finished afternoon tea, it was time to check-out the museum and children’s interactive area. We did not spend a lot of time in the museum to be honest. The kids were given a treasure hunt to complete and they were antsy to find the clues. I did manage to capture a few pictures and read about some of the history.
Following the museum we walked the park-like archaeological site. The path curves around various excavated areas and relic displays. The girls set-off on a 16 clue treasure hunt with the last landmark having a phrase to earn a prize (spoiler it’s a chocolate gold coin).
The kids enjoyed looking in all the various structures searching high and low for the clues before moving on to the next spot on the map. The depth of the excavated ruins are to the original level showing the amount of volcanic ash and mud that covered the village.
The Maori Waka (canoe) held the final clue which is a secret!
After the canoe the trail splits into two options with one direction leading back to the cafe and the other guiding you towards the Wairere Waterfall. This small detour is worth it for the stunning views.
Aubrey spotted blue ladybugs on our way to the waterfall. She claimed they were rare so I had to take a picture and look it up!
The stairs are steep but there are not many to deal with. The first platform takes you close to the what I thought was the bottom of the falls. Nope! This area is just the first level and as you continue down further you approach a bridge crossing over the water.Wairere Falls from Amber Herden on Vimeo.
The waterfall track loops around to the original trail leading back to the entrance.