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Rotorua is a destination town that is known for its vast range of geothermal activity. People travel from all over the world to see mud pools or boiling hot water that the traditional Maori used as a cooking source. There is a little hidden treasure that not all tourists know about which hiding just 50km off the coast from Rotorua which is an experience that will open your eyes in a whole different way. Some say it would be the closest people would get to “walking on the moon” and that is right in our backdoor.
White Island is New Zealand’s most active volcano. White Island isn’t your typical volcano in the mid 1880’s the early Europeans had an idea to try mine White Island for its sulphur deposits. Over the years there were many attempts to get the sulphur but one major eruption happened in 1914 which stopped the mining and killed 10 of the residence living on the Island. The Island is now used for two main purposes scenic guided tours and for geological research.
I was fortunate enough to work for Volcanic Air located on the Rotorua Lakefront edge. When working for this company I got the opportunity to visit White Island by helicopter. Volcanic Air offer a range of different tours but the most popular one is flying from the Rotorua Lakefront out to White Island. When taking a helicopter flight you see some breath taking views that you wouldn’t be able to see if you were on the ground, from sights like Mount Tarawera Rotorua’s dormant volcano to Waimangu Valley the “steaming cliffs”. The flight in a helicopter is roughly a 35 to 40 minute each way but with all the land marks the flight feels like 10 minutes.
When landing on White Island it is a very surreal feeling. You are standing on an active volcano island which is literally surrounded by the ocean and has a big cloud of smoke coming from its main crater lake. As you walk around the Island you not only learn the history but can take a look into what happened and what is left. As you look around the Island you will stumble across mining equipment that was never taken off the Island that just sits their slowly eroding from the sulphur deposits. White Island is an experience I will never forget and one I will always recommend to people.
For more great activities and events in Rotorua visit the Rotorua Canopy Tours Blog. It is home to many links and other mentionable attractions and valuable local knowledge.