White Island was named by
Capt Cook in 1769 after the white cloud covering the island. However he
failed to notice it was a volcano.
Earlier Maori named it ‘Te Puia o
Whakaari’ literally meaning: ‘The Dramatic Volcano’. Today’s visitors will
find it no less dramatic, with its smouldering crater emitting steam and
sulphur constantly threatening to erupt into violence. Seismologists monitor
the island and it is usually on an alert rating of 1 or 2 on a scale of 1 to
5. Its last significant eruption was in 2000 but between 1981-3 the volcano
experienced a major eruption which decimated the island’s Puhutukawa forest
and formed a new crater which later became the present day lake in the
In the early 1900’s a sulphur mining operation was commenced on the island
but it ended in an horrific disaster when all 10 miners disappeared
following an eruption; the only survivor being the camp cat. The mining
operation was resumed based at a safer part of the island but was abandoned
in the 1930’s because of the poor mineral content of the sulphur.
and hazardous White Island lies a safe 48km off the coast of the Bay of
Plenty and fortunately prevailing sea breezes constantly blow the volcano
ash and sulphur further out to sea.
Tauranga are the two
centre’s closest to the island and many tour operators bring tourists for an
unforgettable experience. You can view the island volcano from air, boat or
experience an under water scuba thrill.