Ruapehu is a stratovolcano and is the largest active volcano in New Zealand (2,797 m). It is located within the Tongariro National Park and is part of the Taupo Volcanic Zone.

Ruapehu, as it stands today, is the result of successive layers of lava and ash deposits over a period of 250,000 years. It has also been shaped by lahars, which are a relatively common occurrence. The summit features a majestic crater lake that is fed by snow melt. Major eruptions occur roughly 50 years apart. Between 1995-1996, a series of major eruptions caused large plumes and spread ash across the North Island. The last (minor hydrothermal) eruption was in 2007 and injured one person who was camping near the crater lake. Ruapehu remains restless, with periods of heightened volcanic tremor and volatile crater lake temperatures.

Location: North Island, New Zealand
Coordinates: -39.281268, 175.568430
Volcano Type: Stratovolcano


Ruapehu’s Location


Ruapehu’s Latest Status

2024: Alert Level 1 – Minor volcanic unrest.


Ruapehu’s Eruptive History

1945 March: Ruapehu came to life with a series of eruptions that continued throughout the year.  A large lava dome built up but was violently destroyed shortly after.
1953 2 million cubic metres of water were released from the crater lake causing a massive lahar which destroyed the Tangiwai railway bridge. As a result, an oncoming passenger train plunged into the river, killing 151 people.
1969 A lahar destroyed a kiosk at the nearby Whakapapa Ski Field.
1971 A team of volcanologists witnessed the lava lake bulge and burst covering them in acidic water.
1975 A series of small eruptions – some created lahars.
1995-1996 September – a series of eruptions occurred, creating multiple lahars. Water and blocks were sent skyward to 1.5km. A further series of eruptions occurred in October before subsiding. In June 1996, further eruptions occurred. Lava (within the crater) was also observed.
2006 An eruption sent the crater lake bursting to 200m high.
2007 The most recent eruption. September: A hydrothermal eruption occurred creating two lahars. One person had their leg crushed after sleeping in a nearby hut.
2020 The Volcanic Alert Level has been raised to Level 2 after the crater lake temperature increased to 43 degrees C and energy input into the lake increased from 200 MW to around 400 MW. A volcanic earthquake was recorded on Dec 26.
2022 After significant tremor levels and a warm crater lake, the Volcanic Alert Level has was raised to Level 2. The level has now been lowered to Level 1
2023 The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 1 – Unrest.
2024 While a series of uncommon shallow earthquakes (1-2 km depth) continues beneath Mt Ruapehu, other monitored parameters show no significant signs of heightened volcanic unrest. Volcanic gas emissions remain within the low-to-moderate range.


Ruapehu Monitoring

For monitoring of this volcano, please refer to Geonet New Zealand.


Ruapehu Images