Tongariro National Park is an active volcanic area. Volcanic eruptions can occur with little or no warning, and facilities may not be closed in time. Volcanic monitoring systems in the Park monitor volcanic activity and mitigate volcanic risk, but won't ensure your personal safety.
What to do
Before you go
- Know where the volcanic hazards zones are – check maps of volcanic hazards zones
In an eruption
- Check for burning ash clouds and flying rocks.
- Run away from the path of fast moving burning clouds, otherwise find shelter behind something – banks, ridges or in hollows.
- Shelter from flying rocks and cover your head with your pack.
- If you’re in a valley, move sideways to higher ground – a lahar (fast moving volcanic mud flows) is possible.
- Evacuate away from the eruption site, stay out of valleys - falling ash and volcanic gasses are also possible.
If you hear sirens and voice messages
The Ruapehu Eruption Detection System (EDS) and Village Lahar Alarm Warning System (VLAWS) warn the public of lahar risk through sirens and voice messages.
Whakapapa ski area
- Move immediately out of valleys and move sideways to higher ground.
- Remain in a safe area on higher ground until advised by ski field staff to move.
- If you are in a building or car park – stay put.
- If you are in the Ruapehu Summit Hazard Zone, move down the mountain along ridges to the base area.
- Move immediately away from the Whakapapanui Stream to the eastern side of the Bruce Road. Buildings and facilities on the western side of the road are at risk from lahar – the Holiday Park, Hepi Terrace and the Tavern.
- Assemble at the Chateau Tongariro.
- Stay at the Chateau Tongariro until advised by hotel or DOC staff to move.
Ngauruhoe erupting in 1975
Tongariro Hazard Zones
Tongariro Hazard Zones include: Te Maari, Red Crater and Ngāuruhoe. All of these vents have been active within the last 100 years. The most recent eruption occurred from Te Maari in 2012.
Flying rocks and burning ash clouds are the main volcanic phenomena that can affect the tracks on and around Tongariro.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing and Tongariro Northern Circuit both pass through hazard zones. Even when the tracks are open, volcanic risk is present. Enter these hazard zones at your own risk. If you are uncomfortable with this risk, choose a different track.
Hazard zone map
Tongariro Alpine Crossing electronic warning signs
Electronic warning signs will be deployed on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing if volcanic risk increases. These signs will indicate whether the track beyond the sign is open or closed, based on the level of volcanic risk.
If the electronic light signs are deployed and flashing red, the track is closed due to increased volcanic risk – turn around and go back the way you came.
Ruapehu Summit Hazard Zone
The Summit Hazard Zone on Ruapehu is a 2 km radius around Te Wai ā-moe/Crater Lake, which fills the vent of Ruapehu.
The main volcanic risk on Ruapehu is lahar. Lahars can occur during an eruption when water in Te Wai ā-moe is ejected, sometimes mixing with ash/snow/rock and flows at speed down mountain valleys in a flash flood. Lahars can also occur when volcanic debris on the slopes of the volcano is remobilised during heavy rain and flows down valleys.
The lahar of March 2007 occurred when a dam at the outlet of Te Wai ā-moe, created by eruption materials from the 1995 and 1996 eruptions, collapsed and released a deluge of water that flowed down the primary lahar path of Ruapehu – the Whangaehu Valley on the eastern side of the mountain.
Hazard zone map
Ski areas and Whakapapa Village
Hazard zone maps
- Volcanic hazards at Whakapapa (PDF, 1,096K)
- Volcanic hazards at Tūroa (880K)
- Whakapapa Village lahar warning (PDF, 2,744K)
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