Guide Joseph Warbrick and three tourists were killed instantly when the Waimangu geyser erupted unexpectedly.
In the 19th century there were five major geyser fields in the North Island. These were important in the emergence of New Zealand’s tourism industry. One of the major fields, Rotomahana, was destroyed by the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886. Geyser tourism was given a boost in 1900 when the Waimangu (‘black water’) geyser burst into life. It was the largest known geyser anywhere in the world between 1900 and 1904. Its activity increased in 1903, attracting more visitors. Warbrick and the party he was leading were caught out by a highly unpredictable natural phenomenon. The regularity and force of the geyser began to wane in 1904 and in November it stopped as suddenly and inexplicably as it had begun.
Warbrick had earlier achieved some fame as captain of the 1888/89 New Zealand Natives rugby touring team. This was the first New Zealand representative rugby team to tour beyond Australia. By the time its players dispersed at Auckland in August 1889, they had played a staggering 107 rugby matches in New Zealand, Australia and Great Britain, winning 78 of them – plus eight Australian Rules and two association football fixtures!
Image: Waimangu geyser (Te Ara )