Eruption stops New Plymouth flights

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 05:00 22/11/2012
LOMI SCHAUMKEL and Fairfax NZ

A hiking group from Tamatea Intermediate School got a close-up and spectacular experience of the Mt Tongario eruption.

Tamatea School capture eruption

Aerial footage of Mt Tongariro

Mt Tongariro eruption

 Mt Tongario - the morning after
Ben Curran/Fairfax NZ Zoom
The morning after Mt Tongariro erupted. Much of the ash has disappeared.

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Flights to New Plymouth were cancelled last night because of the eruption of Mt Tongariro however they have resumed this morning.

Airport manager Kevin Hill said the last flight to arrive had been at 7.20pm and the two flights scheduled to arrive after were called off.

"The flights were not coming in because of a possible wind change in our direction," he said.

Air Nelson and Mt Cook airlines would monitor the situation overnight, he said, and decide whether it was necessary to cancel further flights this morning but at this stage the wind appears to have pushed the ash cloud east.

Aside from the airport, Taranaki Civil Defence said Taranaki residents had nothing to worry about at this stage.

Following the Te Maari crater eruption, which sent a 2km-high ash plume shooting into the sky, Civil Defence issued a national advisory saying regions from Waikato to Hawke's Bay could be affected by ash cloud.

Taranaki senior emergency management officer Shane Briggs said while there were no immediate concerns for Taranaki, a close eye would be kept on the eruption.

"We'll be looking at things such as the weather forecast and the amount of ash put into the air to see if it will have a bearing on anything moving towards us.

"At the moment there are certainly no health concerns for us here in Taranaki."

Mr Briggs said Mt Taranaki's activity was constantly monitored and had not shown any signs of change in recent times.

"It continues to be a very quiet mountain as it has been for the past few years," he said.

"It's worth noting also that they're not linked in any way. They're totally independent from each other and just because a mountain in the central region has erupted, it doesn't have any bearing on what might happen here."

GNS Science confirmed yesterday's eruption happened shortly after 1.20pm, the second this year.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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