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Volcanic eruption

Mt Taranaki at sunrise. Image credit: Phillip Capper (Wikicommons)

Volcanic activity happens when hot molten rock rises to the earth’s surface. Most of New Zealand’s volcanic activity is related to the subduction zone to the west of the country. 

Effects from volcanic eruption

While a volcanic eruption in the central North Island is likely to only have a small direct effect on the Wellington region, there would be a number of indirect effects, such as delayed or cancelled flights, closure of central North Island roads, disruptions to power supply, and in a large eruption, an influx of evacuees from badly affected areas

Historical volcanic events in New Zealand

On the 10th June 1886 Mt Tarawera erupted with little warning. Within 12 hours a 17 km long rift had been created, the Pink and White Terraces destroyed or flooded and 108 – 120 people killed.  Ashfall from the eruption extended across the Bay of Plenty.

The 1995-96 eruption of Mt Ruapehu caused minor damage to machinery, cars and power generating plants, it also disrupted air travel, closed airports and even State Highway 1 at times.  The eruption disrupted both the 1995 and 1996 ski seasons, though this was partially offset by ‘volcano tourism’– visitors travelling to the area to see the eruption. 

Risk to the Wellington region

A large eruption from Mt Taranaki in a strong nor-westerly wind could see ash falling in Wellington. Ash particles are very abrasive, they can irritate the eyes and cause lung irritation if inhaled. Ash can also damage machinery and injure animals that eat ash coated food. 

Find out more 

Further information about New Zealand’s volcanoes is available from