About Tongariro

Ngauruhoe and Tongariro overview

Mount Tongariro is made up of multiple volcanic cones; the largest and most famous is Ngauruhoe, which last erupted in 1977. The most recent eruptive episode began in August 2012 at the Upper Te Maari Crater(s) on the northern side of the volcano.

The Tongariro complex of volcanic cones and craters was formed by eruptions from at least 12 vents over more than 275,000 years. Erosion during the last Ice Age has worn away what was once a substantial mountain into the world famous hiking destination that it is today.


Previous eruptions at Te Maari craters

  • 6 August 2012: a phreatic (gas and steam driven) eruption . The eruption lasted a couple of minutes and occurred partly from existing vents at the Upper Te Maari Crater. It also involved the formation of a new crater and eruption fissure.
  • 1869: A large eruption (accompanied by an earthquake) formed the upper Te Maari Crater during an explosive eruption. Māori descriptions include a "bright red flame through the smoke that would burst and fall like snow".
  • June 1886: an ash eruption occurred from Upper Te Maari Crater.
  • November 1892: Te Maari again belched forth an immense quantity of steam, mud and boulders; the ejected material rose 2,000 - 3,000 feet (600 - 900 m) before rushing down the mountain side.
  • January 1893: gas emissions were reported, along with two explosions, the second of which ejected pumice.
  • November 1896 until October 1897: an eruption occurred from Upper Te Maari Crater, depositing ash in Napier.

Additional information on Mount Tongariro and our other volcanoes can be found on our learning pages: