New Zealand warns hikers away from volcano featured in Lord Of The Rings movies

New Zealand has warned hikers and climbers to steer clear of Mount Ruapehu, in the North Island's Tongariro National Park.
New Zealand has warned hikers and climbers to steer clear of Mount Ruapehu, in the North Island's Tongariro National Park.PHOTO: REUTERS

WELLINGTON (REUTERS) - New Zealand has warned hikers and climbers to steer clear of a volcano in a national park whose jagged volcanic rock formations and eerie barren landscapes was featured in The Lord Of The Rings movies.

Quake and volcano monitoring service GNS Science raised the alert for Mount Ruapehu, in the North Island's Tongariro National Park, which last erupted in 2007. "There are more signs of life at the volcano," said volcanologist Brad Scott.

The Department of Conservation warned trekkers to stay out of the Summit Hazard Zone, within 2km of the centre of Crater Lake. "Recent visits to the volcano have confirmed an increase in the output of volcanic gas," GNS Science said.

The temperature of the lake has risen from 25 deg C to 46 deg C since mid-April. The volcanic alert level has been lifted to"heightened unrest" from "moderate".

Each year, thousands of people trek the so-called Tongariro Crossing, a 20km alpine crossing that passes all three volcanoes in the area.

The landscape formed the backdrop for Mordor's hissing wasteland in Peter Jackson's The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.