Eruption 'adds to tourist experience'
Te Maari Crater on Mount Tongariro erupting in Karewarewa (AAP/Geonet)
Tourism operators say this year's eruptions at Mt Tongariro have improved the view and the experience for visitors to the region.
The Department of Conservation today confirmed it plans to reopen the northern circuit and part of the alpine crossing on Thursday, eight days after Mt Tongariro's Te Maari crater spewed ash and gas up to 4km in the air in a small eruption.
Tourism operators are understandably delighted, and some think the eruption will help those headed for treks such as the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
"The recent volcanic activity will add to the experience and we are confident that all necessary steps are being taken to assure visitors' safety," Tourism Industry Association advocacy manager Geoff Ensor said.
"This is a great opportunity to go out with experienced operators who know the area well and can point out the features of the new activity."
Stewart Barclay, a spokesman for local crossing guides, said it was fortunate walkers could still visit the Emerald Lakes, one of the highlights of the walk.
"This summer will be a great time to visit, while you can still see evidence of the recent volcanic activity in an active natural landscape," he said.
"The world famous Emerald Lakes ... are even more spectacular and vivid as a result of the recent volcanic activity."
DOC's Ruapehu area manager Jonathan Maxwell said visitor and staff safety was paramount in the decision.
"The tracks being re-opened cannot only be used safely but will provide visitors with an amazing enhanced national park experience."