Ruapehu roars into life

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 February, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 February, 1996, 12:00am

MOUNT Ruapehu's eruption in central North Island is proving a drawcard for visitors and tourists.

Since it first exploded into life four months ago, the volcano has been spitting hot rocks and ash skywards, together with a steam column bellowing several kilometres high.

'People have been frightened unnecessarily and we would like everyone to know that we are still here and that people should come and see this beautiful mountain for themselves,' one local resident said.

'We're inviting all our friends and family to come and enjoy the volcanic experience.' It has been 20 years since the last major eruption of nearby Mount Ngauruhoe in the area - and 50 years since Mount Ruapehu burst into life.

But scientists say Mount Ruapehu's current rumblings are only the latest in a long history of eruptions. Mount Ruapehu's last major activity was in 1945, when it belched steam and ash for 10 months.

During that eruption, as today, the only disruption was a light dusting of ash across the Lake Taupo area.

While the volcanic activity continues, however, local residents and visitors to Tongariro National Park are being treated to spectacular sights visible from roads surrounding the volcano.