White Island - an Active Volcano

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. White Island, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
White Island, Bay of Plenty
Photographer: David Wall

White Island is an amazing, active volcano located offshore from Whakatane and Tauranga, in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand.

White Island is New Zealand's only live marine volcano, and one of the most accessible active volacanoes in the world. A popular tourist attraction, White Island breathes, roars and hisses; it's spectacular!

The island is unique in a number of ways. The vent is below sea level but shielded from the sea by high crater walls. Although surrounded by sea water, the vent is chemically sealed from it. This sealed zone traps an acid hot water system, which is derived from rainwater.

As White Island is very accessible it is internationally important for scientists and vulcanologists. The volcanic structure of the island is thought to be two million years old, with the volcano itself between 100,000 and 200,000 years old.

Walking on White Island is a little like walking on the moon. There is virtually no vegetation in the harsh acidic environment inside the crater walls. Instead, lush beds of yellow and white sulphur crystals grow amongst hissing, steaming, bubbling fumaroles.

White Island is one of the most amazing natural experiences in New Zealand.

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