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 is in stable condition at Waikato Hospital.
- The sinkhole was of a type known as a fumarole, a vent on the Earth’s surface that emits steam or other hot gases
- The village of Whakarewarewa is temporarily closed while an investigation is underway
The woman was seriously injured when the hole opened up in a footpath leading to a tourist attraction in a Maori village about 200 kilometers southeast of Auckland on Thursday.
She was in stable condition, a Waikato Hospital spokesperson said at noon Friday.
A second person, who the village said was the woman’s partner, was also injured in the incident, but was not hospitalized.
The sinkhole, which measured around two square meters at the surface and was around one meter deep, opened up in a footpath near the entrance to the village of Whakarewarewa in Rotorua just after 2.15pm on Thursday.
It was a type known as a fumarole, a vent on the Earth’s surface that emits steam or other hot gases.
A village spokesperson said it appeared the ground “may have been compromised following recent heavy rains”.
General Manager Mike Gibbons acknowledged the efforts of village staff, who were the first responders on the scene.
“Whakarewarewa Village is our home. When we welcome visitors to our home and grounds, we are their kaitiaki [protector or guardian],” he said.
“That’s why everyone at Whakarewarewa is devastated by the incident that took place yesterday afternoon.”
Whakarewarewa, a “living Maori village”, is known for its geothermal hiking trails, which allow visitors to see hot spring lakes, mud pools and geothermal geysers up close.
It has been temporarily closed to visitors while an investigation into the incident is underway.