Whakaari / White Island – is an active andesite stratovolcano.
Situated 48 km off the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, in the Bay of Plenty. It is New Zealand’s most active cone volcano, and has been built up by continuous volcanic activity over the past 150,000 year
s. White Island has been in a nearly continuous stage of smoking since it was discovered by James Cook in 1769.
The Maori name for the island, Te Puia o Whakaari, has translated both as “The Dramatic Volcano” and “that which can be made visible”.
We arrived at the island c/- White Island Tours. After a 1.5hr boat trip from the mainland. We really couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day with beautiful clear skies and reasonably calm waters which allowed us to enjoy the scenery and bird life on the way there. We were even lucky enough to have dolphins join us on the trip back.
Once on the island the wonderful guides from White Island Tours, enlightened us with
some of the (somewhat tragic) history of the Island.
About 70 percent of the volcano is under the sea, making this massive volcanic structure the largest in New Zealand.
A sulphur mining venture began on the island in 1885; this was stopped abruptly in 1914 when part of the crater wall collapsed and a landslide/lahar destroyed the sulphur mine and miners’ village; tragically killing all 10 workers. They disappeared without trace, and only a camp cat survived. He was found some days afterwards by the resupply ship, and dubbed “Peter the Great”.
Although privately owned, White Island became a private scenic reserve in 1953, and daily tours allow more than 10,000 people to visit White Island every year. GeoNet monitors volcanic activity and visits the island around 10 times a year.
The main activities on the island now are guided tours and scientific research.
This was a totally amazing trip and a day I will always remember.