NEW ZEALAND – A Perth woman visiting New Zealand has been taken to hospital after falling into a geothermal sinkhole in Rotorua, on the country’s north island.
The woman suffered serious injuries when the hole opened up in…
a footpath leading into a Māori village tourist attraction about 200 kilometres south-east of Auckland on Thursday.
She was in a stable condition, a Waikato Hospital spokesperson said at midday on Friday. A second person, who the village said was the woman’s partner, was also injured in the incident, but was not admitted to hospital.
The sinkhole, which measured about two square metres on the surface and was about a metre deep, opened up in a footpath near the entrance to Whakarewarewa Village in Rotorua just after 2:15pm on Thursday.
It was of a type known as a fumarole, a vent in the Earth’s surface that emits steam or other hot gases. A village spokesperson said it appeared the ground “may have been compromised following the recent heavy rainfall”. Chief executive Mike Gibbons acknowledged the efforts of the village’s staff, who were first responders at the scene.
“Whakarewarewa Village is our home. When we welcome visitors into our home, and onto our land, we are their kaitiaki [protector or guardian],” he said.
“That is why everyone at Whakarewarewa is distressed about the incident that unfolded yesterday afternoon.”
Whakarewarewa, a “living Māori village”, is known for its geothermal walking trails, which give visitors a close-up looks at hot spring lakes, mud pools and geothermal geysers.
It has been temporarily closed to visitors while an investigation into the incident takes place.