White Island (Whakaari) is the perfect example of an active volcano. It breathes, it roars and it hisses from steaming vents releasing 800°C toxic gases. Situated off the coast of Whakatane, the Maori name for the island is 'Te Puia o Whakaari', which means 'the dramatic volcano'.
On an eruption scale of one to five, the island is usually on an alert level of one or two. At most times the volcanic activity is limited to steaming fumaroles and boiling mud.
Although it's privately owned, White Island is a scenic reserve that can be visited by launch or helicopter. From Whakatane, Rotorua and Tauranga you can arrange a walking tour of the island, which leads right into the huge main crater. Hard hats and gas masks are provided for the tour.