Video courtesy of Tim Flower/90 Seconds
AGO and the 90 Seconds doco team filmed the unexpected volcanic eruption of Mt Tongario, NZ.
AUSTRALIAN GEOGRAPHIC OUTDOOR EDITOR Justin Walker and senior contributor Amy Russell were on assignment with New Zealand production crew, 90 Seconds, when Mt Tongariro dramatically erupted behind them as the cameras were rolling.
They had just reached the Emerald Lakes, about halfway along on the Tongariro Crossing, when the Te Maari crater blew out a 4km-high mushroom of ash and gas. It was only the second eruption of Mount Tongariro in over 100 years.
Surprise video footage of volcano erupting
"A GNS volcanologist had just finished telling us that there was an extremely low chance of an eruption when it blew," Amy says. Reports are now suggesting there might be another eruption in the next couple of days.
A lack of debris scatter meant there was little danger to the hundreds of hikers within spitting distance. At the time of eruption visitors were able to walk towards the eruption for a better look, but the walking track was quickly closed.
Second Tongariro eruption this year
The last time Tongariro eupted was on August 6 this year. Rob Franklin, who guides Walking Legends tours along the Tongariro Crossing, says the August eruption would have been more dangerous if it had occurred during peak season. Because it was winter, there was no-one around to risk being hit with debris.
Because Mount Ruapehu is the most monitored volcano in the world, Rob says the area is well supplied with information about activity. "They're mostly just a great spectacle, not so much impending doom," he says.
Amy says a broadcast on New Zealand radio soon after the eruption depicted the excitement of the local Maori population. "They were talking about how excited they were that the mountain was alive, powerful," she says. "They were just beside themselves."