The Tarawera Volcanic Complex lies within the southern half of the Okataina Volcanic Centre and has erupted five times since around 22,500 years ago. One eruption 42,000 years ago threw out 50 cubic kilometres of rhyolite.
Mount Tarawera – a volcanic mountain rising nearly 800 metres above the level of adjacent Lake Tarawera, to 1,111 metres. Mount Tarawera comprises of a series of domes, formed when rhyolite and traces of basalt were ejected from the earth’s molten core.
Lake Tarawera meaning 'Burnt Spear' is one of the largest lakes in New Zealand. The lake was home to many small Maori villages and mission settlements. Mt Tarawera’s June 1886 eruption produced a series of craters along the ridge of the Wahanga, Ruawahia and Tarawera peaks, and south-west through Lake Rotomahana.
Eleven days before Mt Tarawera’s eruption, a number of people reported a disturbing sight: a ghostly, fully-laden waka (canoe) being paddled across Lake Tarawera, in the shadow of the mountain. This auspicious sighting was widely discussed, and received much attention from artists and writers after the eruption, but has never been satisfactorily explained.
The mountain belongs to the Tuhourangi people, and the summit can be reached by road with permission from the owners.