A new eruption of steam and mud at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland south of Rotorua has caught a man by surprise but a specialist says while it is uncommon it's not unexpected.
Thomas Rodda drives a shuttle from Rotorua to local sites and was taking passengers to Wai-O-Tapu on Saturday when he saw the mud spurting into the air.
"I go past that pool pretty much every day and I've never seen it do that."
There is a large mud pool at Wai-O-Tapu but Rodda said the hot mud and water seemed to be erupting from next to it.
"It took me a while to start filming. I was quite astonished to see it," he said.
"It's not like it's fenced off or anything."
Rodda said the eruption lasted roughly 40 seconds.
GNS Volcano Information Specialist, Brad Scott, said the Wai-O-Tapu area was an area with steam and mud features.
"It's not common behaviour but it's not unlikely or unexpected," he said.
"Occasionally we get reports of trees covered in mud and maybe something has happened overnight."
Scott said the eruption was not a geyser as geysers were hot water erupting and this was caused by steam.
"It's a mud eruption and it may not erupt again," he said.
"It could be caused by more steam oming through, more water on the stop, sometimes the climate changing."
Scott said as the area was public, people should be cautious when approaching the scene.
Mericia Waqanimaravu, the general manager of Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, said the area where the eruption was is Department of Conservation land.
"As far as I know it's never erupted before but it's awesome to hear.
"Whether or not it's going to continue or it's a one-off, we'll just have to wait and see.
"If it continues it continues, it's what mother nature wants."
Waqanimaravu said she didn't see the eruption but it would have been quite a sight.
"We wanted to visit some caves and see the Glow-worms. Thermal Shuttle was recommended by a large outfit in Auckland. They were right! Thomas was on time and a delight! He shared many facts about the thermal activities in the area. Enjoyed everything about our full day trip. We had a car...
We had an amazing day touring Wai-O-Tapu and Waimangu. Our shuttle was on time and well organized. Our guide, Akika, was incredible. As we were visiting during the off-season and were the only family on his shuttle he took us to a few extra spots along the way, some of which were the highlight...
At Waimangu things are organised really well and even though a couple of paths were closed due to flooding, they have shuttles with really friendly drivers to get you around in good time. The boat trip was absolutely brilliant and you must add it on if you can!
Nat, United Kingdom