Tour the Pink and White Terraces with augmented reality

By Regan Paranihi

People visiting Rotorua can now experience the magnificence of the world-famous Pink and White Terraces for the first time since the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886.

The once-heralded 'eighth wonder of the world' will be brought to life with a specially-developed augmented reality (AR) app, launched by Waimangu Volcanic Valley and built by Rotorua company Digital Elements, alongside Specialist Apps in Australia.

Many resources have been used to develop the app, including work from early explorers, GNS and research from NIWA.

NIWA principal scientist, Dr Andrew Lorrey says, “Using data from the survey details in Hochstetter’s old notes, provided to us by researcher Dr Sascha Nolden, paired with a number of other historic records have helped enhance the living geological textbook that is Waimangu and Rotomahana through AR, which is huge for educating the public about its history.”

Waimangu Volcanic Valley chairman, Alan Skipwith (Tūhourangi) says this app will be the closest thing to restoring the natural taonga of Te Tarata and Otukapurangi and will be amazing to see visitors experience the re-created terraces.

“For many New Zealanders, the Pink and White Terraces formed part of the classroom curriculum.

“For international visitors, they’re intriguing because so many European travelers gathered on its shores to experience the natural spa and health benefits the terraces provided, as well as the mystery about where they are now.”

One of the creators, Leon Thomas from Digital Elements says AR doesn’t replace real life in the way VR headsets do- instead, it adds a layer of interest and excitement over what is already visible.

“AR can give visitors an enriched experience in a way that brings them into the picture.”

 Although the Pink and White Terraces will be a key attraction, the app also reveals other fascinating geological insights.

The app has been in development since February 2018 and is free to download on Apple and Android devices.