A mountain erupted in New Zealand yesterday.
Naaah. It isn’t so much of a big deal as we all know that the country is scored with fault lines and volcanoes are almost commonplace (kind of like Argos stores or roadworks in the UK).
It does, however, get a little bit more interesting when we tell you that the mountain was the next door neighbour to LOTR’s Mount Doom (see below – Eye of Sauron not included). Fun fact of the day.
More interesting still, it’s the site of the renowned Tongariro Crossing – a touristy-for-a-reason one-day hike that walks through as opposed to over the mountain range that is home to 3 enormous mountains; Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and Ruapehu.
This means that there were tourists. On the volcano. When it erupted.
Here is some time-lapse footage of the eruption (apologies a) for not being able to embed this video and, b) for the compulsory advert)…
Health and safety hazard perhaps? What about if I told you that there were two school groups, including one of 90 kids. What about if I also told you that WE WERE ON THAT MOUNTAIN JUST TWO WEEKS AGO!?
HOW NUTS IS THAT???!
Luckily, no-one was hurt or in fact in any real danger. The eruption consisted mainly of billowing smoke and ash and there were no flying rocks, which are the real bad-boys in terms of hurting yourself.* However, what really strikes us is the difference in attitude between the Kiwis and the Brits. Firstly, if there was a volcanic eruption in the UK, we would probably all start screaming hysterically, run in the opposite direction to whatever the authorities were telling us and tell highly inappropriate people that we loved them. Hands up if you wouldn’t do that?
The Kiwis, on the other hand, absolutely loved it. People who were on the mountain at the time thought it was ‘like the sweetest thing evaa bru’. One reported described the scene saying, ‘There was a lot of euphoria. There was screaming and yelling but there wasn’t a lot of fear’.
Another claimed that the latest eruption wouldn’t put Australians off coming over to New Zealand for a bit of outdoors-y danger. Apparently, ‘It will have the opposite effect. They love volcanos and geothermal activity’.
Right. Also mentalists.
We, on the other hand, were beside ourselves with fear when we heard that Tongariro had erupted in August (THIS YEAR) and that we must be vigilant in sticking to the paths during the walk for fear of blowing up or being engulfed by lava and whatnot. This fear was increased tenfold when we saw the tiniest plume of smoke from an area about, say, 5km from the path that we were following. We also sprinted for about 4km through an area of ‘Volcanic Activity’ whilst shouting ‘WHY THE HELL IS THIS TRACK EVEN OPEN? ARE THEY MENTALISTS’.
Joking aside, we made it out alive (of course), as did everyone who was on the mountain yesterday. There have been no reported injuries,tThe DOC (Department of Conservation / Conversation) have closed the crossing for the time being and certain flights to Hawke’s Bay, Gisbourne and Taupo have been cancelled. Not meaning to be a grumpy Scot, but I reckon it’s about bladdy time.
Meanwhile I will leave you with a few photos and a link to a video taken by one of the school teachers who was there at the time. It is in perhaps the most inaptly named articles ever, Panic on Mt Tongariro. No-one was panicking. They were all having a whale of a time.
* The Tongariro Crossing Safety Card gave us tips to bear in mind in the (likely) event of eruption. One of these was ‘Avoid flying rocks’.