A new documentary series starting this Sunday "will give audiences the first glimpse of the iconic Pink Terraces in more than a century" according to GNS Science.

The first episode of Beneath New Zealand on Prime follows an expedition to locate the terraces, led by the Crown research institute's geologist Cornel de Ronde.

"It was extraordinary to see these familiar shapes emerging from the gloom at the lake bed – a tāonga that's been lost for more than 130 years," he said.

On June 10, 1886 the eruption of Mt Tarawera buried the terraces and until recently it was thought they had both been destroyed.


Now, 133 years later, the team behind Beneath New Zealand have filmed what they believe are the Pink Terraces – eroded by time, but still very much intact.

"What we have here is highly compelling evidence that the Pink Terraces survived the eruption," he said.

"The shape was instantly recognisable, even though silt and volcanic ash have eroded some of its distinctive terrace faces of sinter.

GNS scientist, Cornel de Ronde, pictured on Lake Rotomahana south of Rotorua. Photo / File
GNS scientist, Cornel de Ronde, pictured on Lake Rotomahana south of Rotorua. Photo / File

"Initially, our work concentrated largely on what happened when you drowned what was once an on-land geothermal system - not whether the terraces survived the eruption.

"Our more recent focus has been on where the Terraces might sit if they did survive, enabling the tangata whenua and all New Zealanders to see them for the first time in more than a century."

About 120 people lost their lives in the eruption, and many Te Arawa settlements were destroyed.

"Tuhourangi Tribal Authority and the Te Arawa Lakes Trust are working closely with us, and their knowledge and collaboration will continue to be crucial," de Ronde said.

"Our cutting edge science has led us to this point, and it's a privilege to be able to share this moment with them."


More information including video can be found here