1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Rotorua

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ROTORUA, a town of Rotorua county, North Island, New Zealand. It lies in the midst of a remarkable volcanic district generally known as the Hot Spring district, or fancifully as the Wonderland, which covers an area of 660 sq. m. and extends 160 m. from N.E. to S.W. from White Island, an active volcanic cone in the Bay of Plenty to the mountains of Tongariro, Ngaruhoe and Ruapehu in the interior of the island, S.W. of lake Taupo. Rotorua attracts many visitors on account of the beauty and scientific interest of the locality and the bathing in its various medicinal springs. It is a scattered township lying on the south-western shore of lake Rotorua, amid hills reaching 2600 ft. in the immediate neighbourhood, and much of the volcanic soil supports a rich growth of forest or “bush.”

The springs are principally alkaline, alkaline and siliceous, acidic, or acidic and hepatic (sulphurous). The township includes the Maori village of Ohinemutu, an interesting collection of native dwellings, whose inmates constantly use the numerous rudely excavated baths which are fed by springs varying in temperature from 60° F. to the boiling-point, and are in some cases used for cooking. In the vicinity, on the lake-shore, is the government sanatorium. Two miles south of Rotorua is another native village, Whakarewarewa, where there are geysers as well as hot springs. Four miles from Rotorua, near the centre of the lake, the island of Mokoia rises to 1518 ft. It is partly under grass and partly wooded, and is inhabited by Maoris, by whom it is regarded as holy ground. A short channel connects lake Rotorua with lake Rotoiti to the N.E. At the eastern end steep cliffs rise from the water, and luxuriant vegetation covers the hills. Both this lake and the smaller ones to the east, Rotoehu and Rotoma, have deeply indented shores, and are set in exquisite scenery. The group is known collectively as the Cold Lakes. The waters of Rotoma are of a particularly vivid blue. To the south of Rotoiti is Tikitere, a sombre valley abounding in mud volcanoes, springs and other active volcanic phenomena. Mount Tarawera (16 m. S.E. of Rotorua) is noted for the eruption of June 1886, which changed the outline of several lakes, destroyed the famous Pink and White terraces on the adjoining lake Tarawera, and converted a region of great beauty into a desolate wilderness. A fissure was formed extending nearly 9 m. along the axis of the disturbance, and the mission station of Wairoa (8 m. from Rotorua) on the western shore of the lake was overwhelmed. A line of craters is seen to the south-west. The large lakes Okataina, Kahahi and Rerewhakaitu lie respectively N., W. and S.E. of lake Tarawera.