The dormant volcano in the heart on North Island, used as a backdrop to “Lord of the Rings” movies, erupted this week, in a totally unpredictable manner.
“It was completely unexpected, there were no warning signs beforehand,” declared a spokeswoman for the official monitoring service (GNS), according to Phys.
“We were watching (neighboring volcano) Ruapehu waiting for an eruption and instead this came out of nowhere,” she added.
A large group of tourists, 90 schoolchildren among them, had to run for their lives. However, they say the view was worth the danger.
“We were right up there next to it. It was just amazing,” said Lomi Schaumkel, a teacher of Tamatea Intermediate School, as cited by Daily Mail.
“We were probably only a kilometer away from it. We were right next to one of the signs saying we were out of the danger zone.”
Mount Tongariro is one of the three volcanoes included in the national park artistically pictured as the land of Mordor in Peter Jackson's “Lord of the Rings.”
Over 800,000 tourists from all around the world visit the place every year.
Although the authorities assure there is no real danger for tourists or the nearby habitants, destructive events have been noted.
A Mount Ruapehu eruption in 1953 caused the death of 151 people, when a passenger train deviated into the Whangaehu River after a massive bridge's crushing. It was the biggest rail catastrophe New Zealand ever had ever known.
Luckily, this year's event caused significantly less damages.
Air New Zealand airline experienced minor troubles and the roads touring the place were closed, but they were open again by the end of the day. However, the park was decided to remain closed for a few more days to avoid eventual risks.
“This was basically just ash being expelled into the atmosphere, but we don't know what could happen next,” declared the GNS spokeswoman.