White Island lies 30 miles off the coast of Whakatane, in the Bay of Plenty region of North Island. As New Zealand’s most active volcano, it has seen its fair share of rumblings over the past 150,000 years, the most significant of which recently being in 2012, when the entire site was covered in grey ash.
The short-lived mining history of the island commenced in the late 1800s, and remains of the factory can still be seen during a tour, with enormous machinery lying intact where it was abandoned, and the beams from previous buildings perfectly preserved by the volcanic environment.
The island remains a geological gem and volcanologists the world over make pilgrimage to the site, whilst scientists are constantly monitoring the island via fixed 24 hour onsite cameras.
As the majority of the volcano is beneath the water’s surface – the tip of the crater is accessible without any climbing required, making for a leisurely stroll over the rock-strewn landscape. Access is either by boat or helicopter from Whakatane, or for those who prefer a longer scenic flight over the fascinating geothermal sites of North Island, you can also take a helicopter trip from Rotorua.
Whatever your method of transport, all visitors are provided with hard hats and gas marks to protect them from the steaming vents and potential rockfall, and your guide remains with you providing you with informative commentary as you explore the various natural attractions of the island.
What our travellers enjoyed about a trip to White Island…
- Meeting expert scientists doing active research in the field
- Tasting the powdery yellow sulphur deposits that litter the island, and the metallic elements from the bubbling stream
- Learning about the 1914 eruption that killed the miners on the island but spared their cat, Peter the Great
- Sighting orca and dolphins during the flight or boat ride over to the island
- Being one of only a handful of daily visitors allowed on to predator-free Whale Island (Moutohora) to visit the fur seal and gannet colonies, dig a private hot pool in the sand, and learn about the efforts to repopulate the island with native birds