For the first time in over a century, Mt Tongariro has erupted. News of the volcanic activity has sparked a flurry of activity by New Zealanders who have been awake into the early morning.

As an unsettling two-year period of nationwide seismic activity wears on, last night's eruption has created fresh fears.

Earthquakes rattled the mountain through July, causing its volcanic alert level to be raised from zero to one.

It has since been raised to two.


"I'm going outside to see what's up," tweeted Ruapehu-based @glaszbbkyoo.

"Rangipo Rd closed, entrance to crossing closed too. Standing in the chateau driveway now. Can't see past the car park."

"Even the thought of an eruption is really quite scary," tweeted Michael Cropp.

Alan O'Donnell said the events were more of Mother Nature's "silly games".

He went on to remind North Islanders that their home is "dominated by some decent sized volcanoes."

"Extreme videographer" James Reynolds greeted news of the rising ash and red-hot missiles with excitement. He said he "couldn't help" but look at flights to New Zealand.

News of the eruption has also awakened the Kiwi humour that has punctuated these shaky times.

"Why didn't Ken Ring tell us a volcano was going to erupt?", asked James Wells.


Singer Hollie Smith, in London to entertain members and supporters of the New Zealand Olympic team, said the eruption was a "cheap way to have fireworks."

"However Valerie [Adams, defending women's Olympic shot put champion] hasn't won gold just yet."

Civil Defence officials tweeted to say GeoNet had issued a red aviation colour code, meaning a "significant emission" of ash into the atmosphere is either imminent, or already happening.