We already pretty much gave up on the idea to visit Whakaari (better known as White Island), New Zealand’s only active offshore volcano, because the only authorised boat tour was constantly booked out and our name was buried somewhere down their waiting list. But apparently some people are gullible enough to trust the NZ weather forecast and cancelled their trip for what was supposed to be a rainy Friday (hahaha).
And that’s when we got a late evening call that two seats opened up for us on the tour and here are the photos to prove that listening to the weather report is just a waste of time in Kiwiland …
Embarking from Whakatane harbour with what felt like 50 Russians and a very small handful of other nationalities on board of Pee Jay V in bright sunshine:
For Bea the whole trip was already a huge success long before we could even see the smoke of White Island when a large pod of dolphins crossed path with our boat and played with our bow wave for a while:
Landing in Crater Bay is done via inflatable rubber dinghies in full protection gear with helmets (not sure how useful those are when the volcano erupts and car sized lava boulders are flying through the air) and gas masks which came in quite handy close to acidic gas vents on a moon like crater landscape.
Funny how small you suddenly feel when you are so close to such raw displays of the power of nature! To think that people actually used to live on this island for months at a time mining for sulphur until a rockslide wiped out the entire mining operation in 1914 and mining eventually ended in 1930 for good.
Tour guide: “Could someone please translate into Russian that you are not allowed to walk across these small mounds, where that guys is just standing, because the surface crust is VERY THIN and could BREAK AT ANY TIME!”
What an unforgettable adventure!