24 Nov 2012

Businesses concerned at visitor numbers since eruption

2:53 pm on 24 November 2012

Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson says people in the Mount Tongariro area are worried that tourists are not visiting due to exaggerated reports about its eruption on Wednesday.

After visiting Turangi on Friday, Ms Wilkinson said businesses there are worried they will suffer if there are fewer tourists.

The Department of Conservation has established a 3km hazard zone around the eruption crater and closed several walking tracks, including the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is visited by more than 80,000 trampers a year.

Ms Wilkinson says many walks are still open in the area and DoC is confident part of the crossing can be opened again if there has been no change in volcanic activity by the middle of next week.

The mountain was quiet again overnight on Friday. GNS scientists are hoping for low cloud to burn off and for the wind to change to enable an inspection of the volcano's gas plume.

They plan to drive around the base of Mount Tongariro on Sunday to obtain samples of gases coming from the volcano.

Mount Tongariro erupted for about five minutes at 1.30pm on Wednesday. It previously erupted at 11.50pm on 6 August for the first time since 1896-97.