Episode 2 - A Violent Past

Episode 2 - A Violent Past
Episode 2 - A Violent Past

About the show

We travel back in time, back to before the Zealandia micro-continent drifted away from Australia and the rest of Gondwana to learn what New Zealand looked like during a time when some of the largest volcanic eruptions on the planet were occurring. We discover what caused these events, how life adapted and how they influenced the creation and formation of New Zealand as we know it today.

Most of New Zealand’s major towns and cities on the Eastern coast of both islands are shaped in some way by volcanoes. From the oldest volcano in the country (formed when New Zealand and Australia first separated) to fossils and submarine mounts, volcanically preserved deep below the waves, we show how this land sculpted in fire impacts the present-day experience of locals and visitors. 


On the Central Plateau and Mount Ruapehu;

  • New Zealand is home to one of the only volcanic dune fields in the world, one of the rarest ecosystems in the world.
    • It appears to be a desert, but receives two metres of rain annually, and entire forests grow here. 
  • Mount Ruapehu is New Zealand’s largest volcano, found on the central plateau of New Zealand’s North Island. It erupts frequently, and can be massively destructive.
    • Eruptions have occurred regularly in the 1960s, and even when it is quiet, it is considered to be in a state of minor volcanic unrest.
    • In winter, it’s a popular ski resort. 
    • Between eruptions, water collects in the crater from melted snow forming a lake. Up to 10 million gallons can accumulate, and in an eruption when the crater wall breaks, the water floods, carving canyons through the landscape.

On Fiordland and New Zealand’s volcanic past;

  • The mountains of the Southern Alps were formed by tectonic uplift, at the collision point of the Australian and Pacific Plates, creating one of the fastest growing mountain ranges in the world.
  • Fiordland is different. The rock was not slowly lifted out of the Earth, but formed inside a magma chamber under the sea.
    • The ground is covered in mosses and lichen, creating a thick, soft carpet. Known as Golden Spaniards, these plants are members of the carrot family.