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Air New Zealand had to cancel 10 flights last week after an eruption from Mt Tongariro sent ash clouds 4km into the air. The eruption also closed the Tongariro Alpine Crossing walking track. Scientists from GNS reduced the volcanic alert level from level two to one today though the aviation colour code remains at Yellow and further eruptions are predicted.
The aviation colour code of yellow indicates that "the volcanic activity has decreased significantly but continues to be closely monitored for possible renewed increase”.
The Department of Conservation is aiming to re-open the northern section of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing on Thursday this week which will allow sightseers to get within 3km of the vent.
According to volcanodiscovery.com there are some 127 active volcanoes in the world.
Though the volcano has caused some disruption for tourists, the longer term effects are more likely to be positive. The volcano is one of three in the Tongariro National Park, often seen as the background in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Research by First Choice suggests that although visitor numbers might dip for the duration of an eruption, the increased media exposure could help increase visitor numbers in the future.
Once an eruption has started it becomes a "known event” in insurance terminology so you would be unlikely to be able to get cover for disruption or cancellation, though Direct Travel will cover current situations as long as your departure is not in the next seven days. For more information on policies that offer cover for volcanic ash disruption, see this MoneyMaxim article.