Volcanic eruptions in New Zealand
Volcanic eruptions can disrupt communities and cause widespread damage to life and property. Animal welfare may also be a concern. There are 10 volcanoes in or near the North Island that are considered active.
Volcanic hazards include ash fall, flying rocks, gas emissions, hot ash, gas flows, lava flows, and lahars (mud flows). Most of these impacts will be localised. Ash and gas emissions could also spread to areas that are downwind.
Response to eruptions and monitoring of volcanoes
If a volcano erupts, a civil defence and emergency management group will lead any response. They will issue warnings and directions as required. To support this, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will help coordinate animal welfare services. We'll also work with the primary sector during and after any emergency.
Volcanic activity in New Zealand is monitored by GNS Science through the GeoNet Programme. You can sign up to receive volcanic activity bulletins, which have volcano status and recent events.
Planning for volcanic eruptions
Advance planning can reduce losses in a crisis and help you to get through more easily. Discuss potential risks and how they might be minimised with neighbours and local rural groups.
You'll need to think about:
- emergency supplies and equipment
- power and water
- animals and pets.
Stock up on emergency supplies and think ahead
- Ensure you have reserves of water, food, batteries, candles, and gas and fuel – enough for at least 3 days. This includes supplies for pets.
- Include well-fitting dust masks (rated P2 or N95) and goggles without side vents in your emergency kit.
- You could be stuck in your vehicle, so remember to store emergency supplies there.
- Ensure farm insurance cover is adequate and you are clear about what is included.
- Identify sites, away from critical farm areas, suitable for dumping ash after a clean-up. Consider what can be used to cap the ash deposits – for example, soil may prevent ash being further spread by wind or water erosion.
Maintain a resilient power supply
- Check power lines and poles are in good working order and free from overhanging branches.
- Buy a generator.
- Ensure vital equipment can be run from tractor power take-offs (PTOs).
Keep water distribution systems well-maintained
- Connect distribution systems with separate sources into a single network.
- Have maximum storage in covered water supplies where possible.
- Ensure sumps, drainpipes, and drain grills are clear.
- Ensure farms have adequate tank water storage and stored water can be distributed if pumping facilities are disrupted.
- Take steps to protect the household water supply. Install a disconnect valve on roof-fed rainwater tanks and store bottled water. Or be ready to disconnect downpipes from tanks.
Get the right equipment
- Have access to a 4WD vehicle, if possible, to ensure mobility.
- Have a good supply of engine and milking machine filters, lubricating oil, brake and hydraulic fluids, and seals.
- An air compressor in good working order is useful for cleaning ash from machinery.
- Ensure ladders, brooms, shovels, and buckets and blade attachments on tractors are on hand for cleaning up.
- Purchase wrap or sheeting to keep ash out of electronics.
- Stay up to date with servicing of equipment and machinery.
Think about your stock
- If an eruption is coming, ensure animals are not contained in areas at risk of inundation by lahar mud flows (such as rivers or valleys). Prepare to move them to higher ground.
- If large deposits of ash are present and animals are sheltered inside, be ready to check building roofs as the excess weight may cause collapse.
- When planning, consider the time needed to collect and transport your animals after an instruction to evacuate. If you are in a risk area, being prepared and able to take action to evacuate is essential. Discuss this with your neighbours and include them in your evacuation plan, as they may be able to assist if you are unable to access or return to your animals.
- High-value or vulnerable stock (like stock close to giving birth and young stock) should be moved to areas which will be easily accessible in case they need assistance, feed, or veterinary treatment.
Keep your pets safe
- If you have to evacuate, be prepared to take your pets with you – if you can do so safely – or take them to a safe shelter place.
- Ensure you have enough cages and leads to evacuate your pets.
Other resources to help prepare for volcanic eruptions
Who to contact
If you are a farmer, animal owner or grower and have questions about dealing with volcanic eruptions, email email@example.com