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Parents angry Mount Tongariro visit going ahead today

Published: 5:48AM Thursday November 22, 2012 Source: ONE News

Some parents are upset that their children will be going to visit Mount Tongariro today for a school trip after it erupted yesterday afternoon.

A group of students from Saint Kentigern College in South Auckland went to the mountain yesterday afternoon and another group will head there this morning.

Two parents told ONE News they are angry that their children's visit to Mount Tongariro today has not been called off.

Watch video of yesterday's eruption here .

A hundred students and teachers were sent running for their lives when ash and steam came billowing out of the mountain.

Ninety children and eight adults from Napier's Tamatea Intermediate were eating their lunch when the Te Maari crater erupted about 1.25pm.

The "shaken" children, rushed back to the school bus which was waiting for them at the end of the track.

Amateur video shows the children running down the track, some screaming, as an ominous black cloud of ash rises behind them.

"It was a very exciting day, not quite the day we had planned," said Principal Roy Sye. "They are studying volcanoes, so they got a first-hand look at when nature goes unannounced."

The school's outing was their second trip to the volatile region in the last two weeks.

"We looked at the DOC warnings and advisories, and we do make sure we ring and check on the day for any heightened level of risk," Sye said.

Twenty students and eleven staff from Auckland's Gulf Harbour School also made their way safely back down the mountain.

Witnesses say the eruption in the Te Maari Crater came 'out of the blue' with no ground shaking or increased activity at the vent.

Sam Kennedy was one of 50 trampers on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing when the eruption occurred.

"It was completely silent. It was just really eerie and surreal," he said.

Earlier, Greg Hooper from Tongariro Holiday Park told ONE News that he saw a haze in the distance, and lots of cloud cover.

Hooper said he knew of 40 Holiday Park guests who were visiting the mountain, but received confirmation soon after the eruption from members of the group that they were all safe and sound.