Exploring active marine volcanoes with White Island Tours

White Island is one of many of New Zealand’s must see destinations. Located in the Bay of Plenty, about 49km off the coast of Whakatane sits New Zealand’s only active marine volcano; White Island. What makes White Island special is that once on the island, you can get right up close to the crater edge and witness the hissing and roaring of an active volcano for yourself!

 White Island aerial view

An aerial view of White Island


Given the island’s distance from land, it is only accessible by water or air. White Island Tours offer fantastic tours to White Island every day of the year (except Christmas Day), provided the weather is suitable for transporting customers to the island on their luxury boats for a day’s adventure. Getting to Whakatane can be a short or long trip depending on where you’re coming from, but is well worth the time;

  • Driving from Auckland will take about 4 hours, as you head South out of Auckland toward Matamata, then East to Tauranga before following the coastline for an hour or so to arrive in Whakatane.
  • If you are making your way from Wellington, the drive is North through the Central North Island toward Taupo and Rotorua (plenty more adventure to be had in these towns should you have the time!), before heading East toward Whakatane. By car you’re looking at around a 7 hour trip.
  • Whakatane is only an hour’s drive East from Rotorua, making Rotorua a great departure point if you’re not keen on spending too long in the car.

A trip with White Island Tours begins with check in at the White Island Rendezvous, which is ideally located across the road from the Whakatane River, and the tours departure point. Soon after check in you’ll begin your journey on the sea to White Island. The boat trip takes approximately 80 minutes, depending on the water conditions, and is the perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery and marine life.  Once on the island, the expert tour guides will guide you right up to the crater’s edge, walk with you over the yellow and white sulphur crystals and share some history of the island; including the ruins of an old sulphur mining factory. White Island Tours are very safety conscious, which is why all their staff are trained and all tour participants are given the appropriate safety gear for walking around the island.


Inside White Island crater

The view from inside the crater of White Island


After a few hours exploring the wonders of White Island, lunch is provided while you sit back and take in the unique beauty of your surroundings. Then it’s time to really relax and enjoy the return boat journey back to Whakatane.

If the sound of an active volcano doesn’t seem like you, or you’d prefer a shorter trip there’s the option to visit Moutohora Island Sanctuary; also known as Whale Island. Whale Island is a dormant volcano and is home to endangered birds and wildlife. The island is under the protection of DOC (Department of Conservation) and since becoming pest free, endangered bird numbers have been on the rise, giving you the chance to see birds not often seen on the New Zealand mainland.

fantail in Moutohora Island bush

A Fantail in the Moutohora Island bush


Don’t just take our word for it, here’s what some of White Island Tours’ customers have to say about their White Island tour;

Tick one of New Zealand’s must see destinations off your list and contact White Island Tours to organise your trip – you’ll be glad you did! 

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