Active Volcano

White Island – walk on the wild side

Whakaari sits offshore from Whakatane, an outdoors-mad town on the edge of the Pacific ocean, just 100km from Rotorua and Tauranga. You can see the island from town, but there’s no thermal activity, or smell, in Whakatane itself.

A giant, barren moonscape streaked with iron oxide reds and vivid sulphur whites and yellows. An unforgettable two hour walking tour past steaming cracks in the ground, bubbling pools and roaring gas fumeroles (vents).

The scale of everything on the island is giant, with house-sized boulders strewn over the tree-free landscape. The main volcanic bowl is two kilometers across, the cliffs rise near vertically to over 300 metres high and the crater lake is a huge expanse of steaming water. Other groups of hard-hat wearing visitors a few minutes ahead or behind look like little yellow-headed ants.

We help you share the island’s wonders, the guides are knowledgeable and there’s plenty of time to stop, gaze and listen to the music of whooshing and bubbling and hissing and spurting. You’re asked not to wander off the track – but really, who in their right mind would want to?

Near tour’s end you have the chance to check out the sombre ruins of a sulphur processing factory, which operated for a short time in the early 20th century. The sulphur was mined for fertilizer but the business was soon brought crashing down when a huge landslide wiped out the workforce.

Today, the huge steel beams and cogs of the factory are crumbling with rust, the stone walls collapsing inwards: time is cruel on history when the air is a rich mix of sulphur and salt. In another few years, the factory will doubtless be but a memory, but for now it makes a wonderfully atmospheric photograph.

Duration Full Day
Flight Time 4 hrs
Flight Distance 250 nm
Helicopter H130 T2
Base Price NZD14,650 (2 people)
Extra Person NZD660 (up to 6)

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  • Level 25, 151 Queen Street
    Auckland 1023, New Zealand