Te hūnga

Volcanic Activity

Volcanic Activity

New Zealand lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of increased geological activity that circles the Pacific Ocean and contains about 90% of the world’s volcanoes. There are three types of volcanoes found in New Zealand, cone volcanoes (e.g. Ruapehu and Taranaki), caldera volcanoes (e.g. Lake Taupō), and volcanic fields such as the Auckland Volcanic Field| Ngā Tapuwae Ō Mataaho. The Auckland region can also be affected by eruptions from other New Zealand volcanoes, such as ash from the Taupō Volcanic Zone.

The Auckland Volcanic Field currently contains 53 remnants of volcanic eruptions in the form of scoria cones and craters. Eruptions generally only occur once at each site, meaning that the location of the next eruption is likely to be at a new, unknown location.

Volcanoes can produce a wide variety of hazards including:

  • Ash and falling rock debris
  • Very fast-moving mixtures of hot gases and volcanic rock (base surges)
  • Lava flows (fire fountaining)
  • Gas
  • Shockwaves
  • Earthquakes
  • Tsunami.

Any eruption in Auckland will likely cause significant widespread disruption to the region, possibly for an extended time.

The Auckland Volcanic Field is considered an active field, with the last eruption occurring approximately 600 years ago at Rangitoto. New Zealand's volcanoes are monitored by GeoNet, which is continuously on the lookout for warning signs that a volcanic eruption is building.



What do I need to do to be ready?



  • Check the Auckland’s Hazards Viewer to find out more about the Auckland Volcanic Field
  • If a volcanic eruption is imminent, put all vehicles and machinery inside a garage or shed, or cover with large tarpaulins to protect them from volcanic ash
  • Bring animals and livestock into closed shelters to protect them from volcanic ash
  • Protect sensitive electronics and do not uncover until the environment is totally ash-free
  • If you have a disability or need assistance, make contact with your support network
  • Check on friends and neighbours who may require special assistance.




  • Stay indoors as volcanic ash is a health hazard, especially if you have respiratory difficulties such as asthma or bronchitis
  • When indoors, close all windows and doors to limit the entry of volcanic ash; place damp towels at thresholds
  • If you must go outside use protective gear such as masks and goggles and keep as much of your skin covered as possible; wear eyeglasses, not contact lenses, as these can cause corneal abrasions
  • If outside at the time of eruption, seek shelter in a car or a building; if caught in volcanic ashfalls, wear a dust mask or use a handkerchief or cloth over your nose and mouth
  • Disconnect drainpipes/downspouts from gutters to stop drains clogging, if you use a rainwater collection system for your water supply, disconnect the tank
  • Stay out of designated restricted zones
  • If you are caught outside in an ashfall:
  • Seek shelter (e.g. in a car or building)
  • Wear a dust mask designed to protect gainst lung irritation from small particles. If masks are unavailable use a handkerchief or cloth over your nose and mouth
  • Protect your eyes by wearing goggles. Wear eyeglasses not contact lenses as these will result in corneal abrasion
  • Keep as much of your skin covered as possible
  • If you have chronic bronchitis, emphysema or asthma, stay inside and avoid unnecessary exposure to the ash.



  • Look after your family, friends and neighbours
  • Close all windows and doors to limit the entry of volcanic ash, place damp towels at thresholds
  • When it is safe to go outside, safely clear roofs of ash fall, use protective gear, don’t remove ash by using water. Ash is very heavy and can cause buildings to collapse, especially if made wet by rain
  • Listen to advice regarding your water supply
  • Avoid driving in heavy ash fall, driving will stir up volcanic ash that can clog engines and stall vehicles Abrasion can damage moving parts, including bearings, brakes, and transmissions
  • Keep animals away from ash fall and possible hot spots, wash their paws and fur or skin to prevent them from ingesting or inhaling ash when they groom themselves
  • Stay out of designated restricted zones
  • You may eat vegetables from the garden but wash them first.

How ready are you?