You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Small geyser closes Rotorua church

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/04/2017

<span style="font-size:13px;">Lake Rotorua (file photo.)</span> © David Davies/Press Association Lake Rotorua (file photo.) The sudden eruption of a small geyser has closed one of the country's most visited churches.

It erupted immediately outside the doors of St Faith's Church in Rotorua's geotherally active Ohinemutu area on the shores of Lake Rotorua.

The ngawha's appearance is being blamed on recent record rainfall that's sent lake levels and the corresponding water table soaring.

It sent boiling steam and water skyward when it sprang into life on Easter Sunday but cold water has reduced its intensity.

Steam has now begun escaping through fissures opening in the path leading to the church which has been closed, at least temporarily, for public safety.

Until the geyser is tamed and the water table below it falls it will remain closed, Reverend Tom Poata said.

The eruption is part of the unpredictability of a geothermally active area, he said.

It is not yet known whether the area will be safe enough to hold the church's regular Sunday service.

St Faith's is famous for its etched glass window of a Maori Christ walking on the lake waters behind him, its ornately carved interior and tukutuku (woven) panels, and draws thousands of visitors a year.

The church relies heavily on entry donations for its costly upkeep.

Less then a month ago Heritage New Zealand listed St Faith's as a Wahi Tupuna, recognising its cultural and traditional significance to local iwi, the people of Te Arawa.

Some years ago Tamatekapua meeting house, which stands opposite the church, was closed when boiling water sprung up through the floor.

St Faith's is the second Rotorua church to close this year.

In February fire gutted the city's St John's Presbyterian church and in November the Rotorua Museum was shut indefinitely because of structural damage caused by the Kaikoura earthquake.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon