Public told not to be alarmed as Mt Ruapehu eruption simulation exercise kicks off

Locals near Mt Ruapehu are being told not to be alarmed if they hear volcano sirens going off on Wednesday.

The Ruapehu Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM) is holding a multi-agency training exercise on Wednesday based on simulations of Mt Ruapehu erupting.

Led by the Ruapehu District Council, the agencies involved include Fire and Emergency New Zealand, St John Ambulance and the police, as well as the New Zealand Defence Force, Department of Conservation, Ruapehu Alpine Lifts, and GNS Science.

Some local health services, iwi and media will also be involved, with participation from civil defence personnel from outside of the region.

Ruapehu emergency management officer Nick Watson said the exercise would be realistic and based off data collected from previous eruptions.

"This simulation is based on the 2007 eruption and the 1995 eruption. So we have got the GNS data from those two eruptions," he told Newshub.

But he wants to assure the public the exercise is going ahead as routine and the Crater Lake is cooling, meaning there has been no increased volcanic activity prompting the exercise.

"Training exercises of this magnitude are an incredibly important part of our civil defence preparedness designed to test and enhance our people, systems and procedures and ensure their readiness and capacity to respond to a real life event.

"In addition to allowing all the partner agencies to work together they let the people whose normal day jobs aren’t in emergency services to get a feel for what an actual real life civil defence response involves."

He said only those close to the scene will be aware it's going on.

"You'll hear sirens if you are on the ski field, you'll hear sirens in the village of Whakapapa, but the average general public won't see a lot of difference in their daily life.

"Even though this doesn't include the public as such, we are still asking the general public of Ruapheu to be prepared for these things. This is a very active volcano, these things do happen."

Emergency services like police and ambulance will still be available to the public if necessary.