Uncovering our explosive past - a look at some of the historical aspects of volcanoes in New Zealand.

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.

240,000 BC - Double trouble eruptions

Rotorua and Ōhakuri erupt within days of each other.

150,000 BC - 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.

18,000 BC - Mt Smart formed

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

15,000 BC - 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.

200 AD - Taupō erupts

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

1000 AD - Mayor Island formed

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

1314 - Mt Tarawera erupts

This eruption covers the region with a layer of ash.

1400 - Rangitoto erupts

This eruption forms Rangitoto Island.

1870 - Ngāuruhoe erupts again

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

1886 - Mt Tarawera erupts

Mt Tarawera erupts, destroying the Pink and White Terraces.

Find out more about the on-going search to rediscover the Pink and White Terraces.

1896 - Mt Tongariro erupts

Mt Tongariro in the central North Island erupts.

1915 - Continental drift theory

Alfred Wegener proposes model of continental drift.

1954 - Mt Ngāuruhoe erupts

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

1960s - Theory of plate tectonics developed

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

1974 - Mt Ngāuruhoe erupts

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

1995–1996 - Mt Ruapehu erupts

Spectacular eruptions are widely documented in the media.

2001 - White Island erupts

White Island remains active and routinely produces gas clouds.

2007 - Lahar on Mt Ruapehu

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

    Published 9 April 2010