Around 150 people lost their lives in the Tarawera Eruption of 1886 and the area, now occupied by the Waimangu Scenic Reserve, was completely devastated.
The massive eruption opened the earth along a 17 kilometre line, splitting Mount Tarawera in two, exploding Lake Rotomahana to 20 times its original size, and forming the seven craters that today make up the Waimangu Volcanic Valley.
Harvey James manages the Waimangu Volcanic Valley and he recently invited DOC staff to visit and see the projects that are being worked on at Waimangu that are directly benefiting conservation.
It was a great to visit this beautiful forested area and learn about the range of unique geothermal vegetation.
The area is thought to be the only example of New Zealand native forest naturally regenerating from complete devastation.
All of New Zealand’s thermal plants are represented at Waimangu. However, the reserve is not pest free.
Significant effort has gone in to removing invasive plants and animals throughout the reserve, although it was clear that such species were still a problem in the area.
After lunch we were treated to a boat tour through Lake Rotomahana Wildlife refuge and were able to see some of the work DOC has been involved with in this area, including the ongoing Tarawera Pine project.
Along the tour we also learnt about the efforts underway to make Patiti Island (in the middle of Lake Rotomahana) pest free.
The removal of pigs in recent years has significantly contributed to the well-being of the island but mice are an ongoing concern for local birdlife.
It was a fantastic visit to Waimangu Volcanic Valley and it was great to see the conservation gains that are being made and the projects that are planned to tackle the invasive species.