Volcano 3: Mount Tarawera
On 10 June, early in the morning, people were wakened by violent shaking of the ground. Outside, the sky was lit up by lightning flashes.
Eyewitnesses later reported that Mount Tarawera had split open, and that a huge column of fire could be seen shooting up into the air and forming a black cloud of smoke and ash. Molten rocks were flung out of the volcano, landing in the lake with a hiss.
One legend surrounding the 1886 eruption is that of the phantom canoe. Eleven days before the eruption, a boat full of tourists returning from the Terraces saw what appeared to be a war canoe approach their boat, only to disappear in the mist half a mile from them. One of the witnesses was a clergyman, a local Maori man from the Te Arawa iwi. Nobody around the lake owned such a war canoe, and nothing like it had been seen on the lake for many years. It is possible that the rise and fall of the lake level caused by pre eruption fissures had freed a burial waka (canoe) from its resting place. Traditionally dead chiefs were tied in an upright position.A number of letters have been published from the tourists who experienced the event.