Volcanoes - Local navigation

User tools

Timeline - Volcanoes

Javascript must be enabled to view this Flash content.

Note: You will need the Adobe Flash Player to view the timeline above.

An interactive look at some of the historical aspects of Volcanoes in New Zealand. Slide the time bar to see key dates relating to Volcanoes. Pause the mouse pointer over any of the boxes to see additional information about each event. Find out more by browsing or searching the Hub.

10 million BC

Mt Cargill erupts

Mt Cargill near Dunedin erupts, forming the Organ Pipes.

6 million BC

Banks Peninsula formed

Banks Peninsula in Canterbury is formed through volcanic eruptions.

3 million BC

Little Barrier Island formed

Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf north of Auckland is formed through volcanic eruptions.

2.3 million BC

Whāngārei volcanic field active

The Whāngārei volcanic field produces scoria cone volcanoes, similar to those found in Auckland. This field is now extinct.

2 million BC

Mt Horrible erupts

Mt Horrible erupts, forming the Timaru harbour.


Double trouble eruptions

Rotorua and Ōhakuri erupt within days of each other.


First eruptions in Auckland

First eruptions in the Auckland volcanic field at Pukekawa, now the Auckland Domain.

140,000 BC

Lake Pupuke formed

Lake Pupuke is formed and trees are fossilised on Takapuna beach.

133,000 BC

Mt Taranaki erupts

Mt Taranaki, an andesite volcano in the central North Island, begins to erupt.


Mt Smart formed

Mt Smart is formed, and Onepoto Basin is formed in a separate eruption.


One Tree Hill formed

One Tree Hill, an iconic landmark of Auckland, is formed through volcanic activity.

500 BC

Mt Ngāuruhoe first begins to erupt

A vent of Mt Tongariro becomes active and forms the neighbouring Mt Ngāuruhoe.


Taupō erupts

Taupō erupts forming Lake Taupō – the world’s most powerful eruption in 5,000 years.


Mayor Island formed

A volcano in the Bay of Plenty erupts, forming Mayor Island, also known as Tūhua Island.


Mt Tarawera erupts

This eruption covers the region with a layer of ash.


Rangitoto erupts

This eruption forms Rangitoto Island.


Ngāuruhoe erupts again

Ngāuruhoe erupts on 7 July 1870. It first formed about 2,500 years ago.


Mt Tarawera erupts

Mt Tarawera erupts, destroying the Pink and White Terraces.


Mt Tongariro erupts

Mt Tongariro in the central North Island erupts.


Continental drift theory

Alfred Wegener proposes model of continental drift.


Mt Ngāuruhoe erupts

Mt Ngauruhoe in the central North Island continues to erupt and deposit lava.


Theory of plate tectonics developed

Many strands of evidence are tied together into the encompassing theory of plate tectonics.


Mt Ngāuruhoe erupts

Mt Ngauruhoe continues to erupt with an estimated 45 eruptions in the 20th century.


Mt Ruapehu erupts

Spectacular eruptions are widely documented in the media.


White Island erupts

White Island remains active and routinely produces gas clouds.


Lahar on Mt Ruapehu

A lahar (mudflow or landslide) on Mt Ruapehu is a result of the 1996 eruptions.

Image licensed through 123RF Limitedexternal link


Science Learning Hub Survey 2014

Dear Hub visitor,

You're invited to participate in an online survey about the New Zealand Science Learning Hub. This survey was designed to help Hub staff enhance and develop further the site. This is different from our November 2013 survey, so even if you took part in that survey, we would appreciate you taking this survey as well.

Take the survey