On March 22nd, we went on White Island.
It is a little known tour because it is expensive (199$ per person with , the only ones to offer tours there – departure from Whakatane) and it lasts a whole day, but it is really worth it. Booking mandatory, at least 48h in advance especially during high peak season. It is also possible to go on a plane or helicopter tour.
It is Lauriane’s dad who, having seen a documentary on New Zealand which mentionned it, threatened us to disown us if we did not go there. And also he said that he would offer us the tour. So, we told ourselves that we would not challenge him and accepted his offer.
White Island is an active volcanic island located in the Bay of Plenty. The island rises to a height of 321 meters above sea level. However this is only the peak of a much larger submarine mountain, which rises up to 1600 meters.
Sulphur mining was attempted but was abandoned in 1914 after a lahar killed all 10 workers. The main activities on the island now are guided tours and scientific research.
From Whakatane, it takes 2 hours by boat to go to the island. Once the boat is anchored, you take a zodiac by groups of 12 people to actually go on the island. We left with our guides, who explained different things and let us the time to take pictures in nice spots.
The scenery is breathtaking, as if it was the end of the world, the sulphur smell was suffocating sometimes (thanks gas masks!)… The guides gave us candies to relieve our throats. Pretty amazing colours, rocks… There were even some little streams, one of them was impressive: you can immerse a copper coin and it cleans it. You better not drink it.
After a 2h walk, zodiac, 2h on the boat (with lunch included, nothing transcendent) during which we saw seals playing in the water right next to us, then back onto dry land.
We are really glad we went on White Island, it is probably one of the most amazing visit that we did since we left France. Thanks Dad / Tom for this beautiful gift!