Dreaming in New Zealand: White Island

Note: my visit to White Island took place before the deadly eruption in December 2019, which killed 21 people. For obvious reasons the island is no longer open for public visits. 

I think I booked this excursion only a few days before it took place and I was put on a waiting list. Luckily I made it (obviously, doh!). I had mixed feelings whether it was worth it but I have to say I was not disappointed. This was a quite unique experience. The island is the most active volcano in New Zealand and we were asked to sign papers waiving our rights to challenge the tour operator in case something happened.  Understandable.

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The tour starts on the boat. For the rich-like there was an option of flying to the island. As you will see later there was plenty of helicopters on the island and above.

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A boat ticket in a shape of a volcano 🙂

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A lady guarding the entrance to the harbor in Whakatane, simply called the Lady on the Rock. Erected in 1965 as a memorial to the wife of Sir William Sullivan and highlights the bravery of Wairaka and the daughter of Toroa.

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The weather was not the best and I hoped it would improve. And it did!

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The birds followed us all the way to the island.

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Getting closer. The ride was a bit bumpy, but it wasn’t too bad. Although it did made one guy throw nearly throw up.

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White Island is one of New Zealand’s main breeding colonies for Australasian gannets. There was thousands of them all around the slopes and in the sky.

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We are circling the island to get to the entrance which is on the other side.

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The big boat could not get closer to the island for safety reasons therefore a small boat was used for transfers.

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Transfer complete 🙂

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In 1914 a a crater wall collapsed killing 10 miners. Their bodies were never found. The only survivor was Peter the Great, a cat, found 3 weeks after the accident. The island used to be a source of Sulfur, but the mines were closed in the 30′ last century. In 1953 the island was declared a private scenic reserve.

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Fellow visitors. We were all asked to wear protective helmets.

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Helicopters were a common sight on the island.

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The entrance to the volcano’s cone.

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Photo boxes taking pictures of the cone and registering trembles.

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The whole area is rather splendid and you can judge it by the size of fellow humans in the below picture. It also shows how insignificant we are compared to the power of nature.

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Number of volcanic activities can be clearly seen by the ground layers. It’s interesting but also quite terrifying…

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Wonderfully smelling sulfur. Not.

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We were given sweets to help with breathing around the yellow sulfur area.

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The gassy extract from the hole was really strong and facing it without a mask was nearly impossible.

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Acid lake in the cone. We were not allowed to get any closer to it. Not like anyone wanted to anyway…

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The whole area was boiling.

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Coal mine leftovers.

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Tour boats in the background.

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Rusty-like stones.

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Wild sea lions enjoyed the sunshine. And we enjoyed the sight of them 🙂

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And us enjoying clear waters around the volcano. Make no mistake – the water was cold!

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The birds noticed something in the water, what would that be?

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Looks like kingfish to me? I am not an expert though.

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Gazing out? Hello!

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A kind farewell to the island. I am pretty sure I will never see you again…

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Thanks,
Adrian

 

 


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