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The most famous of all the Bay of Plenty islands is the out-of-this-world Whakaari (White Island). Whakaari is located 49km offshore from Whakatāne and 91km from the coast of Tauranga; on a clear day you can see billowing clouds of steam - and while it’s still a very active volcano, it’s worth the trip out there to experience its true force of nature.
Its Maori name, Whakaari, means “the dramatic volcano”. It was subsequently named White Island by Captain James Cook during his 1769 voyage because it always appeared to be covered in cloud.
The ever-present sulphur has stained the rock surface vivid hues of yellow and orange. You’ll be guided around roaring steam vents, bubbling mud pits, hot volcanic streams and a lake of steaming acid so make sure you have your camera ready. You can also examine the remains of a sulphur mining factory which was abandoned in the 1930s but has survived multiple eruptions since.
Tours to White Island are best suited to people aged 8 and over who are capable of walking on an uneven surface for up to two hours. You’ll need fully-enclosed footwear for this trip (walking or tramping boots are recommended, or shoes with a good grip). No jandals or sandals are allowed.
There are no facilities onshore so bring a water bottle, sunscreen and appropriate clothing with you and make use of the toilets onboard your tour boat before you disembark.
This marine volcano is one of the Bay of Plenty’s most popular tourist attractions. Experience its powerful presence for yourself.