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Natural Hazards - our supervolcano

Taupo lake and surrounds Photo: Dougal Townsend, GNS Science

Welcome to Natural Hazards - our supervolcano. This field trip is supported by EQC (the Earthquake Commission). The field trip is from 27-29 August 2019. Enrol now.


New Zealand has the world’s most frequently active supervolcano system!

Get ready to explore the central Taupō Volcanic Zone (TVZ). This zone has two recently active volcanic centres, Taupō and Okataina. Every few decades the Taupō Volcanic Zone experiences unrest and every few hundred years it erupts. These eruptions can be very small and short lived, or more rarely, enormous on a global scale. 

For scientists deciding if unrest will lead to an eruption and estimating the timing and impacts of any future eruptions are huge challenges. During this field trip you will follow the journey of high priest tohunga Ngātoroirangi south from Maketū to Tongariro, visiting sites significant to local iwi. Mātauranga Māori and science together can help us to understand how our supervolcano works and what we need to do to prepare for an eruption.

Meet Shelley the LEARNZ field trip teacher.
Meet Shelley the LEARNZ field trip teacher

Watch the introductory video on Vimeo.


You will fly into the North Island town of Rotorua to begin your exploration of the Taupō supervolcano. 25,500 years ago the supervolcano erupted from a massive pool of magma about 5km below the ground surface. When most of the magma had been erupted the ground above collapsed, leaving a massive depression in the middle of the North Island. This depression slowly filled with water, becoming Lake Taupō.

Field Trip Plan - Term 3 2019

Monday 26 August

Travel Day

Read the diary about the travel day from Dunedin to Rotorua to begin the Natural Hazards Supervolcano field trip. Read the ambassador updates.

Tuesday 27 August

Day 1

Our Super Volcano

Follow the journey of Ngātoroirangi south. Read the diary about the Taupō supervolcano and the buried village of Te Wairoa. Watch the videos to see how Mātauranga Māori and science together can help us to gain a better understanding of our volcanoes. Read the ambassador updates and watch the recorded web conference.

Wednesday 28 August

 Day 2

Volcanic Hazards

Read the diary about how Ngātoroirangi brought fire to this area. Visit the Volcanic Activity Centre in Tūrangi and watch the videos to see how to prepare for volcanic eruptions. Read the ambassador updates and watch the recorded web conference.

Thursday 29 August

Day 3

Managing Natural Hazards

Travel south to Wellington to visit the National Geohazards Monitoring Centre. Watch the videos and experience the new Te Taiao exhibit at Te Papa. Read the diary to discover how to prepare for natural hazards and manage their impacts. Read the ambassador updates and watch the recorded web conference.


What's New

Wednesday 21 August Teachers can find out more about Mātauranga Māori, the Māori worldview of volcanoes and the journey of Ngātoroirangi in these notes supplied by Sylvia Tapuke and Bubs Smith - PDF (1.25Mb).

Monday 5 August

The Natural Hazards background pages and their easy reading versions and student activities are now online.

The LEARNZ Team think that joining the NZASE and staying connected through the NZ Science Teacher will help you become a better teacher of science.



ECLIPSE - Eruption or Catastrophe: Learning to Implement Preparedness for future Supervolcano Eruptions

UC Geology