Mount Tongariro effects tourist’s plans

Mount Tongariro, a volcano in New Zealand, has affected the travel plans of some tourists.

The volcano, which had remained dormant for close to 115 years, erupted on the North Island of New Zealand early this week. The eruption was spectacular and powerful, with ash thrown four miles into the sky causing minor disruption to air and terrestrial travel for a short period.

Not only has the volcano effected the travel plans of tourists that were intending to travel through New Zealand, but the eruption has also affected local tourism, with the mountain being located in a national park. The location is a popular haunt of hikers, and large numbers of visitors trek through the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. With the volcano being considered a threat, huts and hiking tracks around the mountain have been closed until further notice. Hikers who were already trapped have been evacuated.

A spokesperson for the Conservation Department said that Ketetahi hut was damaged by falling debris, as it is located closer to the Te Maari craters, and there were concerns that that some tourists may have been killed, although that appears not to have been the case.

The ash had led to the closure of some roads, but traffic resumed by the middle of the week.

It is expected that the 21-kilometre Tongariro Alpine Crossing and the Northern Circuit could remain closed for a while. Business owners feel that a glut of cancellations for next summer could severely affect the tourism industry in the region.  However, like in Iceland, it could be possible that a major and high profile eruption actually benefits tourism long-term.

Mount Tongariro sits near the popular winter ski resorts at Mt Ruapehu, which have reported no effect from the eruption.