A Rare And Special Attraction
A rare New Zealand attraction leads to Whakaari or White Island. White Island was named by James Cook who misunderstood the white cloud around the island. An active volcano was hiding behind water steam.
|Ruins of Sulphur Mine|
It is the only New Zealand marine volcano. This means more than 70% of the volcano is below sea level. Above sea are 321 m measurable. Scientists and tourists alike are drawn to this small island 48 km offshore from Whakatane.
Whakatane, the closest town to the island, is a charming major town at the end of eastern Bay of Plenty. Captain James Cook chose this name "Bay of Plenty" considering the richness of food in this area. The Bay of Plenty is one of the sunniest region on the North Island and is famous for its kiwi fruits.
White Island is privately owned. Only authorised tours are permitted to land by boat or helicopter.
The morning we went on this boat trip blue sky with a rising sun promised a beautiful day. Filled with excitement we watched each step from launching and manoeuvering through the harbour exit.
The sea was quite lively so that some of the passengers became seasick. A pod of dolphins was crossing our way, incredibly elegant mammals.
In expectation of the landing masks were handed out for protection of eyes and respiratory system. Last instructions were given as in some areas the earth crust might be to thin to carry a persons weight.
The anchor was dropped and an inflatable was let to water. Two groups of passengers were formed and one after another climbed into the boat and set off to the landing stage. Despite all the water movement everyone reached the island safely.
Standing in the ruins of the sulphur mine we followed attentively the story of how people lived and worked here in this hostile environment. The sulphur was used in medicine for its antibiotic qualities, for sterilizing, matches and for fertilizing the fields.
Moving further onwards the fact walking on an active volcano was more present. The surface with its debris reminded more on the moon than on inhabited land. Steaming vents skirted the way to the crater filled with water.
Returned to the boat from this spectacular New Zealand attraction the skipper took us on a tour around the island. Revealed were the parts covered with vegetation and the seals living on its shores.
At passing the harbour entrance the slender
sculpture of Wairaka caught our eye. It commemorates a brave young
woman who once stepped out of the submissive woman role into an
assertive manly role.
Translated Whakatane means "to be manly".
We returned happy and satisfied from a stunning natural experience the tour to the volcanic island enabled us to.