Experience White Island Volcano
Located 49km off the coast of Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty, White Island is an impressive sight at the horizon. Constantly active, its steam plume is visible on clear days from the mainland but it’s not until you get up close and personal with this volcano that you can truly appreciate the extraordinary feeling of being so close to one of the earth’s natural wonders.
Tours to this fascinating volcanic island depart daily (weather permitting) from Whakatane which is located approximately 1 ½ hours from the main centres of Rotorua or Tauranga. Because it is not on the main route and considered slightly ‘off the beaten track’, a visit to White Island can often be overlooked when planning your itinerary. White Island offers arguably the best geothermal experience in New Zealand and should be a ‘must do’ for visitors planning their travels around the North Island.
White Island Rendezvous is the check-in point for the adventure. There is plenty of parking available directly across the road for campervans or if it looks full one of the friendly crew at White Island Tours will direct you to a side street which also provides easy parking for motorhomes. After checking in for the tour and collecting your boarding pass, check out PeeJays Coffee House which is part of the White Island Rendezvous Complex. It’s worth checking in for your trip a bit earlier than necessary just to grab a delectable bite to eat and a takeaway coffee to enjoy on the boat!
The majority of the volcano lies beneath the sea which means we can disembark directly into the crater complex without the need for mountain climbing! Equipped with hard hats and gas masks, visitors can get up close to roaring steam vents, bubbling pits of mud, hot volcanic streams and the incredible lake of steaming acid. The vivid hues of yellow and orange resulting from the abundant sulphur on the island make it a photographer’s dream.
Experienced guides will lead visitors on a two-hour exploration of the inner crater, providing a fascinating commentary on the geology of the island as well as stories of attempts to mine sulphur. Along with volcanic and geothermal features, you will see the remains of the sulphur factory which have survived multiple eruptions since being abandoned in the 1930s.
Once back aboard a light packed lunch is served which can be enjoyed while viewing the outer walls of the island where Pohutukawa forests grow, and large Australasian Gannet colonies exist. The trip home often has the added bonus of being able to view any marine life such as seals, dolphins and whales that are in the area at the time.
- Tours to White Island depart daily – weather permitting
- Whakatane is the departure point for tours to White Island and is approximately 4-5 hours from Auckland or 1 ½ hours from Rotorua or Tauranga
- The tour will keep you busy for a full day – approximately 6 hours in total depending on conditions
- Bookings are essential.
- White Island Tours also run half-day trips to nearby Moutohora Island Sanctuary – a protected wildlife sanctuary for native New Zealand flora and fauna.
A trip to White Island provides an unforgettable experience to explore New Zealand’s only active marine volcano and as many other travellers have expressed on Tripadvisor reviews – could turn out to be the highlight of your travels in New Zealand.