The ash cloud from last night's Tongariro eruption is spreading from to the east of the central North Island volcano.

The Civil Defence warns the ash could reach people in the Waikato, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, Manawatu-Wanganui, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki. It has already been reported as far east as SH5 near Te Haroto and in Napier.

The predicted ashfall area can be seen here.

The Civil Defence advises people in affected areas to:


- Stay indoors: volcanic ash is a health hazard, especially if you suffer from breathing difficulty. If outside, seek shelter (e.g. in a car or building)

- When indoors, close all windows and doors to limit the entry of volcanic ash.

- If caught in volcanic ash falls: Wear a dust mask or use a handkerchief or cloth over your nose and mouth; protect your eyes by wearing goggles. Wear eyeglasses, not contact lenses as fine ash will get under the lens.

- Listen to the radio for updated emergency information and instructions. Follow any evacuation orders issued by authorities. Refer to the back page of the Yellow Pages for evacuation advice.

- Do not tie up phone lines with non-emergency calls.

- Stay out of designated restricted zones. Effects of a volcanic eruption can be experienced many miles from a volcano.

- Detailed safety advice will come from local authorities and emergency services in the area. People should act on it promptly.

For more what to do during an ashfall, and how best to clean up the ash, see here.


The Desert Road and State Highway 46 have now reopened after being closed this morning due to the ash.

Air New Zealand is advising that some flights to and from airports to the east of Tongariro, including Gisborne, Rotorua, Taupo, Napier and Palmerston North, may be delayed or cancelled as a result of the eruption. Passengers are advised to check the Air New Zealand website for flight arrivals and departures information.

Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields remain open.