A Rotorua family was rocked awake at 2am yesterday to what they thought was an earthquake. They instead found a large, steaming mudpool in their yard.
Susan Gedye told 1 NEWS the "whole house was jolting and shaking". It went on for about three minutes.
"We kind of panicked a bit and thought, 'Man, we've got to get out of here - the house is going to blow up'."
Thick clouds of steam and large clumps of mud could be seen coming from the newly formed hole. A steady stream of onlookers continued snapping photos today as the mud pool spewed out debris.
"There was mud everywhere," Ms Gedye said. "It's just getting worse and worse by the hour, so we were told we had to quickly evacuate and just get what we could out.
"You're just in bed asleep and thankful for your home and everything, and then just overnight it changes and you have to get out and just go."
The family has been told there might be a sinkhole under the kitchen of the rental, so they aren't allowed back home.
"The landlord's pretty devastated," Ms Gedye said.
This morning they were back to remove their possessions.
But despite having to leave their home, Ms Gedye said it was "quite spectacular", and while a mudpool appearing in their backyard was a first, geothermal activity is not uncommon in the area.