White Island - The Ultimate Volcanic Encounter

White Island offers visitors the ultimate volcanic experience and is a 'must do' inclusion in your New Zealand itinerary.

Located 49km off the Whakatane coastline in the Eastern Bay of Plenty lies White Island - New Zealand’s most active volcano.

The Experience

White Island is the largest volcanic structure in New Zealand however 70% of it lies beneath the ocean making the inner crater accessible to visitors.  The highest point reaches up 321 metres from sea level and on approach the giant crater walls create a sense of anticipation that you are about to set foot on one of earth's natural wonders.

Equipped with hard hats and gas masks, guides take visitors up close to the roaring steam vents, hot volcanic streams, bubbling mud pools and the astonishing sight of the lake of steaming acid.

The colours the island produces from the sulphur, rocks and minerals and the eerie remnants of the failed sulphur mining factory provide endless opportunities for the avid photographer!

White Island - The Facts

  • White Island is the summit of a large submarine volcano which is estimated to be 150,000 to 200,000 years old.
  • Being an active volcano White Island is closely monitored by scientists at GNS.  Three cameras are positioned around the island which take images every hour, a seismograph measures earthquakes and volcanic tremors and survey pegs can be seen in locations where scientists are recording ground deformation.
  • The last significant volcanic eruption was in July 2000 which covered the crater floor with volcanic ash and scoria.
  • White Island is included in New Zealand’s Taupo Volcanic Zone which contains most of the county’s volcanoes.  The islands closest neighbour is Moutohora which is a dormant volcano and now a wildlife sanctuary for some of New Zealand’s most endangered birds and reptiles.

Get Me There

White Island Tours is the only company that can get you to White Island and land you there by boat.  This slick operation has been visiting the island for the last 25 years and is a registered adventure activity provider.

The departure point for the boat trips to White Island is Whakatane.  This boutique riverside town is located 90 minutes from the main centres of Rotorua and Tauranga or 4 hours from Auckland.   Spend a couple of days if you can and check out their other local treasures.

Accommodation is available in Whakatane at White Island Rendezvous , this motel is operated by the same crew as White Island Tours , with check in for the tours at the reception of the motel, and the boats departing across the road it makes it a convenient accommodation choice.

Have you got a great story to tell? Add your own article