Tue, 07 Aug 2012 6:07p.m.
Access roads remain closed following Mt Tongariro eruption (AAP)
It’s the off-season now and few trampers attempt the Tongariro Crossing at this time of year, but authorities are taking no chances.
Two access roads will remain closed until further notice following the eruption of Mt Tongariro this morning.
Rangers have been doing sweeps of the track, to make sure no one has been left behind.
3 News spoke to one of the Department of Conservation rangers, who said he saw no sign of any ash on the tracks in the closed off area of the park and nothing to suggest there had been an eruption.
But it is a different story on the eastern side of the mountain, where ash is clearly visible and fine volcanic dust has been stirred up by the wind.
Locals with any respiratory problems have been warned to take extra precautions, as ash can become an irritant for people predisposed to that condition.
Far away from the eruption, in the Hawke’s Bay, residents knew from early morning that something had happened.
On resident told 3 News he could “smell it”.
“It stank like Rotorua.”
As the morning went by, locals noticed the fine dust that covered vehicles and roadways. The council delivered advice, including how to make sure residents’ tank water wouldn’t be contaminated.
“We want them to disconnect their tanks from the roves so none of the ash gets in,” say Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence spokesman Ian Macdonald.
At the Tongariro National Park, publicity about the eruption is worrying businesses, with tourists getting confused over which mountain is affected.
One owner said he’d had six cancellations today, because visitors wrongly thought it was Mt Ruapehu.
But today’s eruption is very different from that of Ruapehu in the 1990s, which affected 100,000 people and cost the economy an estimated $130 million.
This time, ski fields and businesses in and around Ruapehu are operating as usual and want the tourists to keep on coming.