Former TVNZ newsreader Judy Bailey says good timing probably saved her from near disaster.

Bailey was walking the Tongariro Crossing on Monday afternoon with Adrift Guided Outdoors boss Stewart Barclay for an article she is writing for the Herald's Travel magazine.

The pair stopped above the Te Maari crater to admire the view and have a laugh about 4pm - just hours before the mountain erupted for the first time since 1897.

"We were just looking around when I said, 'Gosh, wouldn't it be great if it blew up? That'd be a great experience', and of course, it did blow."


"I spoke to Stu earlier this morning and I said to him that it was perfect timing."

Bailey was tucked up in a Taupo hotel bed when the mountain blew.

She said apart from "a bit of steam" in the Ketetahi Springs area, not far from the Te Maari crater, there was nothing to suggest what was about to happen.

"Stu did say that the area usually had two or three earthquakes a year but he was telling me that this area had seen 99 in the past couple of weeks."