Tongariro’s highest cone – Mount Ngauruhoe – was the inspiration for Mount Doom in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, although either a model or CGI had to be used for filming because this mountain is sacred to the Maori. (Closeup shots in that movie were filmed on Ruapehu, another volcano just south of Tongariro.)
Ngauruhoe is the most active of the 12 vents or so that make up this volcano, but it last erupted from 1973 to 1975. The most recent Tongariro eruption was on August 6, 2012, when there was a gas and steam eruption that came partly from an existing vent in the Te Maari craters and partly from a new crater and fissure in the Te Maari crater area.
Here is the original image without the Joker kitteh added:
Tongariro sits in New Zealand’s oldest national park, and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is incredibly beautiful. This past August, there was some increased seismicity in the Te Maari region, but the crossing remains open. Department of Conservation personnel are working closely with volcanologists to monitor the situation.