(Some) Volcanos of New Zealand
Last Updated: 19 March 2001

Volcano Photos of New Zealand

These pictures are copyrighted by Christian Treber. Copyright information for my pictures.


Mt Ruapehu from the West

Location
Central Plateau, North Island, New Zealand
Information
Mt Ruapehu is the largest and highest volcano of New Zealand (about 2800m). It lies in the Tongariro National Park where two other volcanos, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe, are located. A road leads up to 2/3rd of the height and from there it's a chairlift ride and three hours of steady climbing to the top. It can be done with a guided tour and isn't to hard (I did it!) if you are reasonably fit.

Mt Ruapehu Crater Lake

Location
Mt Ruapehu, Central Plateau, North Island, New Zealand
Information
Mt Ruapehu has a summit plateau which consists of several craters covered under a central glaciers. The active vent contains a crater lake. Is is about 400m wide, 600m deep and contains highly acidic water, up to 60C warm. The lake drains through an ice cave just off the tip of the wing. The temperature and colour changes all the time. The colour ranges from green to muddy grey, and earlier this century the water sometimes had frozen or even disappeared.

From time to time, steam explosions (phreatic eruptions) cause hot water to spill over the flanks. Note that the peak on the right (Pyramid Peak) has no snow on it. The water melts snow and ice and carries rocks with it. These so called lahars pose a danger on skiiers on a nearby skyfield. Early this century, a lahar carried away the train bridge at Tangiwai. Some minutes later the Express Wellington/Auckland plunged into the river, and 153 people were killed. Today, an automatic warning system has been installed which warns Skiiers on the Whakapapa Ski Field and stops trains on threatened routes.

In the background you see the single cone of Mt Ngauruhoe.


White Island

Location
Bay of Plenty, 40km North Offshore Whakatane, North Island, New Zealand
Information
White Island is New Zealands most active volcano. It usually just steams along like on the picture, but sometimes larger ash eruptions generate a dark column over the island. It is privately owned, and you can get there by boat or helicopter. Note the white ship which anchors near the place where the Sulphur Factory had been.

We went there with a guided tour per helicopter. After 20 minutes flight, we circled around the island several times and landed for an four hour excursion on the island. Note that there are green shrubs on this side of the island, but the plants on the other side have been killed by toxic gasses.


Destroyed Sulphur Processing Plant

Location
White Island, New Zealand
Information
Nobody lives on White Island now, but at the beginning of the century, sulphur has been mined by a dozen of men who lived in a camp on the crater floor. The raw material (spilling out of the broken left wall of the building) was heated in large retorts and the refined sulphur was shipped to the mainland - as fertilizer! A customer wrote that it was good for killing weeds in his driveway...

The Company never has been very successfull, and the aggressive gases and materials made retorts and buildings unusable in a short time. The works were abandoned when a land slide killed all of the workers, leaving a cat as the single survivor. It was never found out what really happend, but it is believed an earthquake caused a part of the outer crater wall to collapse.


Crater Floor

Location
Crater Floor, White Island, New Zealand
Information
White Island is shaped like a horseshoe. This is a view of the crater floor looking from the building to the inner crater. White Island is very active. Though it normaly doesn't erupt lava, there are signs of volcanic activity everywhere. Steaming hot earth and boiling pools filled with mud and water.

The floor is covered with find ash so walking on it is like walking on the moon. Many fumeroles discharge hot gases, some of them reaching temperatures of over 800C. Out pilot told us that some years ago the surrounding rocks where so hot they were glowing in the dark.


Central Crater

Location
Central Crater, White Island, New Zealand
Information
White Island has a central crater whose appearance is constantly altered by minor and major eruption. Sometimes there are ash eruptions which form a dark column over the island. There is always a cloud over White Island, but usually it is white and its shape and size varies with the volcanic activity and the weather (the colder, the more steam you see).

Large Fumerole on Crater Wall

Location
Central Crater, White Island, New Zealand
Information
This is an especially large fumerole on the inner wall of the central crater. Image the sound of a large roaring jet engine, and you get an impression of the noise it produces. Together with the steam, the smell of foul eggs (caused by sulphur) and because it's not the only fumerole in the crater, a view in the crater is like looking in hell's kitchen.

Crater Lake

Location
Central Crater, White Island, New Zealand
Information
At the bottom of the central crater some water has formed a small, hot and highly acidic lake. Steam usually blocks the view, but sometimes a breeze lifts the fog and grants a view of the lake. It sometimes disappears but returns after longer periods of rain. Don't go to near: The crater rim is very unstable imaging what would happen if you slide down into the water...

Noisy Nelly and Me

Location
White Island, New Zealand
Information
This large fumerole is called "Noisy Nelly". You can see it too on the picture of the Crater Floor on the right side. The exhausted gasses are quite hot and make breathing difficult if you go to near. The pilot provided some filter masks so we could protect our lungs a bit. It's a good idea to protect your glasses and photografic lenses, too: The gasses are very corrosive and can damage anti reflection coatings.

Scientists have placed a basket with metal samples into Noisy Nelly. They want to find out which materials resist best to this very corrosive environment. These materials could be used to draw hot steam from deep bores for the purpose of generating electricity out of geothermal energy. This is allready done at Wairakei and Ohaaki in New Zealand and in Italy, Iceland and Japan.


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