I was fortunate to receive a small grant as part of a College Research award. The money will go towards starting a visualization / virtual heritage project centering on the Pink and White Terraces, destroyed in 1886 by the nearby Mt Tarawera eruption. To get to Lake Rotomahana (Maori for warm lake) you need a guide or a guided tour by boat or possibly permission from the local Maori tribes.
There are Maori legends of a ghost canoe (waka), the tragedy of over one hundred people dying (although figures are debated), a buried village, and the issue of recreating not just the Pink and White Terraces, but also the legends that surrond them, and the huge volcanic eruption that buried them. Plus the controversy between scientists as to if any of the terraces remain buried under the rubble. The wikipedia also states (anonymously) that some of the terraces remain in private hands, but the operator at the Buried Village tells me she has not heard of any remnants surviving the disaster.
Despite the violent history and current controversies, the entire area is a beautiful part of the country.
For more see, http://www.tarawera.com/index.html
Update: nearby Warbrick Terraces may give some texture clues to the appearance of the Pink and White Terraces. A photo of the nearby area by a professional photographer is on flickr. There are several tours of the area.
Update2: NZ Railway magazine in vol.6 issue 5 Nov. 1933 wrote “It is contended by some well qualified to judge that the lowering of Rotomahana’s level by 120 feet or so, by means of cutting a channel through the ash and mud deposit to Lake Tarawera, might reveal one at any rate of the beautiful terrace formations.”
Update3: Due to a much more comprehensive and well funded project taking place (see here) I am suspending this project for a while although I may contact the project team to see if they would like additional interactive visualization.
UPDATE: They found the Pink Terraces! http://juliansrockandiceblog.blogspot.com/