Air New Zealand says the ash cloud from the Mount Tongariro eruption is clearing to the east of the country and flights are resuming to Gisborne, Rotorua, Taupo, and Palmerston North.
About 40 flights to regional airports were delayed or cancelled this morning.
Flights to and from Napier are still affected and subject to delays and cancellations as a result of the eruption.
Air New Zealand says it is continuing to work closely with the
Civil Aviation Authority, MetService and other authorities to keep
up to date with the ash movement and forecasts.
The airline is working with the relevant authorities to safely make adjustments to flight routes to ensure aircraft remain clear of any ash and keep providing a safe service to the travelling public, said Air New Zealand General Manager Airline Operations and Safety, and Chief Pilot, Captain David Morgan.
Passengers are being advised to check the
Air New Zealand website for
flight arrivals and departures information which continue to be
Do you have information, photos, video of the eruption? Email email@example.com
Auckland Airport this morning delayed and cancelled outgoing flights to Gisborne, Napier, Palmerston North and Wanganui. Incoming flights from Wellington, Christchurch, Napier and Taupo have also been affected.
Airways New Zealand said planes have been allowed to fly over or around Mt Tongariro but not within a 12 kilometre radius around the mountain.
Waikato Civil Defence says the situation is calm at the moment but it is ready to ramp up its response if volcanic activity escalates.
Current advice is to:
- Avoid unnecessary travel in affected areas
- Take extreme care when cleaning up any ash because of the possibility of slips, trips and falls
- If it can be done safely, disconnect pipes leading to home water supplies if there is a risk of ash being washed into tanks
The eruption was also a reminder for people to keep their emergency preparations and kits up to date, said Group controller Scott Fowlds.
Latest Civil Defence information can be found here.
This morning Civil Defence recommended people in the Central Plateau remained indoors as ash continued to fall in the region.
If they did venture outside, Civil Defence said residents should wear eye protection, a dust mask or use a handkerchief to cover their face.
Those with breathing difficulties were advised to remain indoors and ensure all windows and doors are closed.
Civil Defence also urged residents not to tie up phone lines with non-emergency calls.
No evacuations were ordered, however, some people left their
Cloud moves east
Civil Aviation authority manager Peter Lechner said the airspace over Mt Tongariro, stretching to Gisborne, southern Hawke's Bay and northern Wairarapa would be affected by erupted ash.
He said the 6096 metre ash cloud is moving eastward and is expected to lie near Gisborne by 6pm tonight.
"Ash can get into various parts of an aircraft engine," said Lechner.
"It can get into the engine and basically result in the engine stalling, which is not a good thing. It can get into other important components of the plane and cause significant safety dangers."
He said weather conditions would affect how long the ash stays in the central North Island airspace.
"We are looking at a bit of a weather change tonight as a depression and frontal system moves on to the country," said Lechner.
Meanwhile, police are warning motorists in the Central Plateau region to avoid the region.Around five centimetres of ash fall on State Highway 46 around the mountain, forcing NZTA to close the road. The road, along with State Highway 1, has reopened this morning.
Ski fields open, Tongariro Crossing closed
The Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields on Mt Ruapehu have opened as usual today despite the Mt Tongariro eruption.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is closed, however, and trampers are being encouraged to use alternative tracks around Whakapapa and Mt Ruapehu. The Taranaki Falls, Whakapapanui and Silica Rapids day walks are all open and unaffected.
The Department of Conservation is expected to make a decision on re-opening the Tongariro Crossing within 72 hours.
A number of soldiers training in the Waiouru Military Training Area at the base of Mt Ruapehu and Mt Tongariro were evacuated as a precaution when the eruption occurred last night.
The army has since done a risk assessment of the area and the soldiers have been able to continue with their training as scheduled, said Major Pat Hibbs of the NZ Army's Training and Doctrine Command.
There has been no sign of any ash in the Waiouru Military Training Area and as a result there is no risk to the health of any of the army's personnel, Hibbs said.
Short-term exposures to ash are not known to pose a significant health hazard, however ash-filled air can cause short-term abrasion, inflammation and irritation injuries to eyes and the respiratory system.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says employers should take the following precautions to protect people working in areas of ash fall.
- Make dust masks or respiratory equipment available for all
- Safety glasses should be worn
- Contact lenses should be removed and eyeglasses worn in their place
- Keep skin protected by overalls with elasticated cuffs
- Portable washing stations should be available for hands and eyes
- Robust footwear with good grip should be worn
- Avoid driving if possible
- Clean and protect air filters in machinery
More detailed information is available on the Ministry's Labour Group website.