White Island

White Island or Te Puia o Whakaari is situated 49 km's north of Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty, North Island, New Zealand.

Frontier Helicopters is the only local helicopter operator allowed to land on White Island so book online here or call 0800 804354 for the experience of a lifetime!

The Maori name of Te Puia o Whakaari means, 'The Dramatic Volcano'.

It was named, 'White Island' by Captain Cook on the 1st October 1769 as that was how it always appeared to him whilst he sailed through the Bay of Plenty. Had he ventured closer he would have realized it was a Volcano as did Reverend Henry Williams on 1st December 1826.

The Island is approximately 321 metres above sea level with its full height about 760 metres from the sea floor. The visible part of the submarine volcano measures 2.4 km by 2 km. Like an iceberg the remainder of the Volcano measures 14 km by 16 km lying under the ocean in the northern most area of the Taupo Volcanic Zone situated between the Pacific and Indian-Australian plates.

White Island is New Zealand's most active Volcano. Scientists and Volcanologists from the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, (IGNS) continually monitor the Volcano's activity through an array of modern seismographic and camera equipment and make public through their website the current Scientific Alert Level with any other relevant information.

White Island is monitored then rated with a Scientific Alert Level between 1 - 5 [5 meaning destruction with major damage beyond Volcano with significant risk over wider areas]. Usually the Island is steady between 1 and 2.

The Island has reasonable deposits of Sulphur and this led to a small period of history where Sulphur was harvested for many different uses. The NZ Manure and Chemical Company were first on the scene and produced fertilizer for the local market and Sulphur ore for export in 1885. Other uses for Sulphur were medicinal purposes, matches, gunpowder, sterilizing wine corks and vulcanizing of rubber.

Many different individuals and companies attempted to make a living from the Island between 1885 - 1933 until the Depression reduced demand for fertilizer and the last operating company, White Island Products, walked from the Island never to harvest Sulphur again. What remained was an elaborate rail system for the Sulphur trucks, a large Sulphur factory with a warf into Crater Bay.

White Island was put up for tender and was eventually brought by George Raymond Buttle in June 1936 because he rather liked the idea of owning a Volcano and strange as it may seem but the island is unbelievably beautiful and beyond description. The Island is still owned by the Buttle family to this day.

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