Two pieces of Rotorua's Pink and White Terraces have sold at auction for $64,000 - more than twice the expected selling price.

They were bought at the International Art Centre in Parnell, Auckland last night by a private buyer, who did not want his identity revealed. He said the specimens will stay in New Zealand.

They were collected by 15-year-old Ina Haszard a year before the terraces were destroyed when Mt Tarawera erupted in 1886.

The explosion killed 120 people, buried a village and caused widespread damage.


Isna survived but most of her family died.

The terraces, on the edge of Lake Rotomahana, were once described as the eighth wonder of the world.

The specimens were offered as part of a package which included an oil painting of the White Terraces by Isna, a 1944 newspaper account of the eruption, a collection of 12 photos of the terraces and a collection of colour lithographs.

Centre director Richard Thomson said the specimens _ which attracted worldwide interest - were like gold.

"It was one of the most sought-after things I have ever sold. I have never, ever had so much interest in one particular lot. (The terraces) are New Zealand's Titanic.

"The sale price exceeded all our expectations. We were very encouraged by the attendance and the sale set records for other rare and important works of art."

The terraces were thought to have been totally destroyed by the eruption but early last year scientists found part of the Pink Terraces about 60 metres below the surface of Lake Rotomahana.

The White Terraces were found several months later. Earlier this month scientists said they believed about 75 per cent of the Pink Terraces remained intact.

The terraces were formed when geo-thermally-heated water containing large amounts of siliceous sinter, was ejected from two geysers near the lake. When the water cascaded down the hillside it left thick pink and white silica deposits which formed the terraces.