Film crew told 'no chance of eruption'

A documentary crew filming on Mt Tongariro yesterday was told there was next to no chance of an eruption moments before the volcano came to life.

Three members from Kiwi web-video production company 90 Seconds TV were shooting a documentary for Rototura International Airport with the aim of enticing Australians to New Zealand when they struck "gold".

"We were up on the hill and our cameras were trained in the direction of the volcano and then, lo and behold, a big black ash column emerged from behind the mountain and the volcano began with us rolling," director Dave Insull said.

"It was actually quite quiet from our perspective. It was just a giant ash column that came up and mushroomed out and got bigger and bigger. So for the first 30 seconds we were all really excited, it was documentary gold, we couldn't believe our cameras were rolling.

"And then after that we were thinking this thing's getting pretty big, we should get off the hill."

He said they had just been filming a volcanic scientist who told them "in no uncertain terms" that "there was no chance, or maybe a two per cent chance" of an eruption while they were on the mountain.

Moments later, the Te Maari crater started gushing ash and smoke.

"That just sort of added to the intrigue and it was epic."

Producer Tim Norton said the eruption put New Zealand on the world stage.

"We're pretty excited about this event for New Zealand and how much publicity it will get for international travelers."

"This is what it's all about really. Come to New Zealand and get something you don't expect."