Posted by Dave Rayner on
Maori call White Island "Te Puia o Whakaari" – the dramatic volcano. And once you've seen it up close, it's easy to understand why. This rock in the ocean off the east coast of the North Island, is a spectacular living tapestry of bubbling mud pools, hissing steam vents and belching sulphur-lipped holes in the ground.
Enjoy an awe inspiring guided tour, walking on the active crater floor of White Island with Aerius Helicopters scenic flights. Heading out from the Aerius base at Tauranga, you'll fly over the blue Pacific towards the puff of steam that marks the island. Aerius offer the opportunity for you to land and explore this incredible place - New Zealand's most active, and among the world's most accessible, marine volcanoes.
The unique lunar landscape is an integral part of the Pacific ring of fire, just 52 kilometers off the Bay of Plenty coastline and a breathtaking exhibition of the powerful forces that continue to shape the country. The dramatic crater is roughly 2km in diameter and rises 321m above sea level. But like the tip of the iceberg - there's another 1280m of volcano deep beneath the surface.
It is a harsh and desolate alien environment and yet it's strangely beautiful too. The volcanic scoria is surprisingly pretty, multi coloured in shades of reds, yellows and greens. A floating curtain of steam screens a large crater lake before lifting to reveal its fatally corrosive body of water. And as barren as it seems, the volcano is actually home to a colony of Australasian gannets, based on the southern edge of the island.
Almost unbelievably, this alien place was once also home to factory workers who mined White Island for sulphur in the early 1900s. You can still see the ruined corroded remains of their lives today. The sulphur was extracted from rocks and sent back to the mainland where it was used in fertiliser, explosives and even in medicine - it was used as an antibacterial agent before the days of antibiotics. The mining operation ended when part of the western crater rim collapsed in 1914, killing all 10 miners.
Without a doubt, a White Island tour through Aerius Helicopters is one of New Zealand's most unique and memorable scenic tour options. Don't miss this adventure - it'll be the highlight of any trip and definitely 'out of this world'!