New Zealand Volcanoes
The volcanic attractions of New Zealand are renown world-wide and easily rival other volcanic sites in the world such as Yellowstone or Iceland. The vast majority of thermal activity is in the North Island and centred in and around the Rotorua and Taupo volcanic zones which are situated in the middle of the island. Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu are the 3 main volcanoes in the centre in an area called the Central Plateau. These volcanoes erupt regularly. Mt Ruapehu had some spectacular eruptions in 1995 and 1996 while Mt Tongariro erupted twice in 2013. Ngauruhoe's last eruption was 1972.
To the west of the Central Plateau and close to the western coasline lies the lonely conical peak of Mt Taranaki. This volcano last erupted in the year 1755.
Further to the north in the Rotorua area is Mt Tarawera. In 1886 this volcano blasted 2 cubic kilometers of lava and rock onto the surrounding countryside, killing many people and also destroyed New Zealand's most spectacular natural feature, the world famous Pink and White Terraces. These terraces have recently been discovered 60 metres (200 ft) below the lake floor in their original location. Further north in the sea just off the Bay of Plenty coast is the island volcano of White Island. This volcano is continually releasing pressure and hence the name White Island as it often has white steam and clouds surrounding it
The biggest volcano in New Zealand and known as the world's most destructive in the last 70,000 years is a caldera filled with water called Lake Taupo. It is the largest lake in New Zealand and classified as one of Earth's super-volcanoes. Situated in the centre of the North Island, this volcano last erupted in the year 186 AD, and erupts approximately every 2000 years. This eruption was over 50 times the magnitude of the Mt St Helen's eruption. While Mt St Helens moved 3 cubic kilometers of earth, and Krakatoa (the biggest in recent times) in Indonesia moved 8 cubic kilometers, Taupo moved 110 cubic kilometers. This eruption is regarded as the biggest in the world in the last 5000 years. The skies and sunsets formed from this eruption lasted about six months and were noted by Roman and Chinese observers. About 26,500 years ago, Lake Taupo had a true supervolcanic event when the biggest and most destructive eruption in the last 70,000 years took place. That event dwarfed the 186 AD eruption and ejected a massive 1170 cubic kilometers of earth giving it a Volcanic Explosivity Index rating of 8.
Both the Coromandel Peninsula and the Auckland region including Auckland city have many monogenetic volcanoes. Fortunately it has been 600 years since the last eruption. These volcanoes each erupted for a period of weeks and up to a year. The exception being Rangitoto Island a volcanic island clearly visible from Auckland city and rising 260 metres (850 ft) above the Hauraki Gulf. Eruptions of Rangitoto are significant events and it last erupted during Maori occupation of New Zealand according to their legends.
Rotorua contains many thermal reserves and features including boiling mud pools, hot springs, geysers, thermal rivers, boiling lakes, steam vents (fumeroles), and volcanic terraces. Rotorua attracts tourists the world over because of these attractions. It is also New Zealand's most popular tourist attraction, partly because it is only a few hours drive from Auckland, New Zealand's biggest city.