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Ash from Chile's CordónCaulle has caused Qantas to cancel some of its flights to New Zealand and Tasmania.

The ash is expected to disrupt domestic and international flights for the next week as ash plumes from the volcano in southern Chile enter New Zealand airspace.

Qantas confirmed to AAP it had cancelled several flights scheduled for Sunday. They included QF1010 (Hobart to Melbourne), QF45 (Sydney-Christchurch), QF46 (Christchurch-Sydney), QF121 (Sydney-Queenstown) and QF122 (Queenstown-Sydney).

WeatherWatch.co.nz said a deep red sunset over Southland tonight was "not normal" and signalled the ash had arrived in New Zealand.

The volcano began erupting on June 4 with the initial ash plume reaching above 50,000ft (15,240m).

The eruption ejected small particles very high into the atmosphere, where strong winds have carried them great distances to the east, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said.

There was potential for ongoing ash plumes to arrive over southern parts of New Zealand as early as tonight, spreading northwards through the remainder of the weekend.

The plumes were expected to be at cruising levels for both jet and turboprop aircraft (20,000 - 35,000ft), but at the moment not below 20,000ft, the CAA said.

Given that the volcanic activity was continuing, it was expected that New Zealand airspace might be affected by these plumes for at least a week.

New Zealand has a Volcanic Ash Advisory System that ensured civil aviation operations could be safely carried out near volcanic ash. The CAA was also communicating with the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority, to ensure both countries had the latest information available.

The MetService will track the volcanic ash plumes and provide warnings to the aviation industry here and over the wider area - roughly from the Equator to the Pole and mid-Tasman to just west of South America.

At this stage the forecast direction of the volcanic ash plumes might initially have an effect on air traffic routes over the South Island, the Christchurch to Australia routes, and the great circle routes between Australia and New Zealand and South America, the CAA said.

The situation was being closely monitored and other air traffic routes might be affected as volcanic ash forecasts are updated. Based upon information provided by MetService, airlines will adjust their flight routes and altitudes to remain clear of the ash clouds.

Safety of the air operations is the primary goal, and flight disruptions will be minimised as much as possible consistent with this objective.

Air New Zealand has said it did not expect delays or cancellations to its domestic or international services as a result of the ash.

The company said it would adjust flight routes and altitudes as required ensuring planes stayed clear of any ash.

- NZPA