By Jenny Suo
For the second time this year Mt Tongariro has burst into life, sending a massive plume of ash and steam into the sky over the Central Plateau.
It sent school children and trampers running for their lives while a brave few stopped to take in the sights.
The eruption from the Te Maari crater sent a 2km plume of ash shooting into the sky.
Up to 90 Napier school children were only 1km away when the crater blew, they were shaken, but safe.
Tourist groups were walking up the Tongariro Track too, though some were more excited than frightened.
“As a tourist this is unbelievable,” says Jesse Frank. “On the bus ride over here the tour guide was saying ‘The chances of an eruption is like 0.0001’ and he was giving all this safety advice, and I thought oh there’s no way this is going to erupt, I'm just going to listen to my Taylor Swift on my iPod. I guess I should have listened a little better.”
Tourism operators say this is help to the industry.
“I think it's excellent, it's a little promotion- provided scientists deem it's safe then it will just be an added attraction,” says Stewart Barclay.
This is the second time Mt Tongariro has erupted this year. Shortly before midnight on August 6 an eruption sent rocks up flying up to 2km from the crater and damaging the Ketetahi hut.
Scientists were given no warning of today's eruption and wont rule out any more any further activity, though they say it's unlikely today is related to recent activity in Ruapehu.
The aviation colour code, which was initially red, has this evening been downgraded to orange meaning the volcano is no longer producing ash.
Scientists will keep a close eye on Tongariro over night and reassess the situation come sun rise.
Air New Zealand says it's not expecting to operate any early services to or from Taupo, Rotorua or Gisborne airports tomorrow morning.