White Island New Zealand

ABOUT THE TOUR

  

White Island Tours gives you an in-depth guided tour of one of the world’s most interesting volcanoes. The island’s history is related in an informative way, with scientific information explained in an easy-to-understand manner.

Shortly after check-in at the White Island Rendezvous, the tour departs from the Whakatane Wharf. You will find yourself aboard PeeJay, a luxury launch specifically built for the tours to White Island.

The trip out to the island is approximately 80 minutes, depending on conditions, so there is plenty of time to take in the scenery and marine life and enjoy our commentary through the excellent microphone system on board. 

On the way out to the island our crew will issue everyone with safety gear, consisting of a hard hat and gas mask.  Upon arrival at White Island, we anchor PeeJay and ferry everyone over to the island via inflatable boat to an existing concrete jetty.  There is a short ladder to climb, a steel planking system to cross, and some boulders to negotiate before reaching the shore.  Then it is time to start your exploration of New Zealand’s only live marine volcano.

 

Trained tour guides will take you through the remains of the old sulphur mining factory and up close and personal with the bright yellow sulphur crystals.  Just to top it all off, venture right up to the main crater’s edge.  It’s all here, the hissing, roaring, eerie steam rising from the crater lake.  After feeling the awesome power of Mother Nature, sit back, relax and enjoy the included packed lunch before we head for home. On our trip home we might even be lucky enough to spend some time with dolphins, whales or the NZ Fur Seal.

Current Activity Level and Tour Status: GNS currently has White Island on a Level 1 alert status which indicates constant background volcanic activity and is the island's usual alert level. There has been a noticeable increase in volcanic activity on White Island during early 2013. When visiting an active volcano there is always an element of risk. White Island Tours has been taking visitors to White Island for over 21 years and are experienced in working with the island through different levels of activity. Tours are currently operating as usual.

              

TOUR DETAILS

  • White Island Tours operates 7 days a week, weather permitting.
  • Bookings are essential.
  • The tour is very weather dependent. Bookings cannot be confirmed until the night before your tour.
  • Check-in is at White Island Rendezvous, 15 The Strand East, Whakatane.
  • Tour departure times:
    Our standard tour departure time is 9.15am. Please Note: Currently we are experiencing very shallow conditions in the harbour entrance we use and as a result our departure time is varying on a daily basis. We will confirm departure time with you the night before your tour.
    Additional tours will be added when demand requires - please use the availability calender in the online booking page or call us to check departure times for the day that you are interested in travelling on.

Please use the above times as a guide only.  Trip times can vary daily due to weather, tide times and passenger numbers.  All passengers must double check departure time the night before the scheduled tour. All passengers are contacted the night before to confirm the check-in time and weather conditions.

WHAT TO BRING

  • Fully enclosed shoes with good grip.
  • Warm waterproof jacket
  • Drink/water bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • Camera
  • Swimming gear is optional in summer

WE PROVIDE

  • Quality cruising aboard purpose-built vessels
  • Professional and experienced crew and tour guides
  • 1.5 – 2 hour fully guided walking tour of White Island's inner crater area.
  • A light packed lunch and refreshments
  • Safety gear (gas mask and hard hat)
  • Permit to land on the island
  • Permit to spend time with any marine life that we encounter

PRICE AND PAYMENT DETAILS

WHITE ISLAND TOUR

Adult    $199.00 per person

Child (13 years and under)    $130.00 per child

Payment is to be made upon checking in for your tour. No deposit is required due to our trips being weather dependent. Payment can be made by credit card, eftpos, cash or if you have pre-booked and paid with a booking agent, we will require the voucher.
If weather conditions mean we have to turn the trip around and return to Whakatane without landing on White Island, a full refund is provided.

HOW TO MAKE A BOOKING

BOOK NOW!

Bookings can be made by phone, fax or email. When making a booking please advise:

  • Your first name and family/surname
  • Number of passengers
  • Your contact phone number for the evening before the tour
  • Where (town/city) you will be travelling from on the morning of the tour
  • Method of payment (cc/cash/voucher).  If you have a pre-paid voucher please advise the voucher number.

Q & A

How often do you go to White Island?
We go everyday that the weather will let us, except for Christmas Day.

Do we need to book in advance?
Yes.  In summer it would pay to book at least one week in advance.  In winter it should be no problem to book just a day or two in advance, as long as no large groups have booked up the boats. It is a good idea to book on your first available day so that if the trip is cancelled due to the weather conditions, you may (subject to availability) have the option of an alternate day.

How much does it cost?

The Adult price is $199.00.  
Children 13 years and under are $130.00 

For this price, our 6-hour marine experience includes a comfortable 80 minute boat journey each way on one of our two purpose-built launches (60-foot PeeJay IV and 73-foot PeeJay V), a two hour exploration of New Zealand's only live marine volcano with White Island's most experienced and knowledgeable guides, a packed lunch and the landing fee which we must pay to the owners of the island. Sharing our knowledge of all the bird and marine life that we see is part of the day and, as we have a permit to view dolphins and whales, we will spend time with these mammals whenever we see them.

Do we need to pay a deposit?
Deposits are not required for bookings of 1–10 passengers. With group bookings and charters, a 10% deposit may be required, especially if the group will be travelling in peak time.

What time does the boat get back to Whakatane?
From time of departure our tour normally takes between 5 and 6 hours. The time varies as it depends on sea conditions and we will also spend time with any dolphins or other marine life we encounter.

Where does the boat leave from?
The boat departs from the Whakatane Wharf, with check-in taking place beforehand at White Island Rendezvous, 15 The Strand East, Whakatane (across the road from the boats). 

What do we need to bring for the tour?
You will need fully-enclosed footwear to wear on the island. We recommend walking/tramping boots or trainers with good grip and suitable for walking in up to 2 hours.  NO JANDALS OR SANDALS ALLOWED.

We suggest that you wear some older style clothing and dress for the weather on the day.  Make sure you bring something warm to wear while on the boat.  Any extra items can be left on the boat while you are on the island.  Sunscreen, camera, water/drink bottle are all recommended.

Are there any rest areas on the island?
No, there are no rest areas or handrails or facilities at all on White Island. You will be on your feet for an hour and a half to two hours.

Is it OK to take our camera gear onto the island?
In most instances it is fine however please keep in mind that it is an acidic environment. We recommend keeping it covered when near any ash or steam as this could potentially result in corrosion.

Will the volcanic steam or gases damage our clothing or jewellery?
In most instances no, however on occasions jewellery (in particular silver) may become tarnished. We suggest that you do not wear jewellery onto the island if this is of concern. Clothing infrequently becomes discoloured due to the acidity of the steam so it is advisable to wear older clothing if possible.

How big is the boat?
PeeJay IV is a 60 foot luxury launch.  She was purpose-built for White Island Tours and launched in 1997.
PeeJay V is a 73 foot luxury launch.  She also was purpose-built for White Island Tours and was launched in July 2003.
There are two fully-flushing household toilets on board.

Can we go swimming at the island?
During the summer, if conditions permit, there may be a chance for a swim out at the island.  You are welcome to bring your swimming gear.

Can groups go on the tour?
Yes, a White Island Tour is great for tramping groups, photographic groups, social groups etc.  It is an ideal destination for a whole day outing.

Can anyone go on a White Island Tour?
We have a recommended minimum age of 8 years and will not allow children under the age of 4 onto White Island. The decision to bring younger children is up to the parents. The safety gear we provide (hard hat and gas mask) is of adult sizing and therefore doesn’t always fit to a child’s head. Children need to be able to cope with the landing or be accompanied by an adult who can assist or carry them.

Pregnant women wishing to take the trip are advised to consult their health care professional before taking our trip. 

There is no maximum age limit.  However, the trip does call for a certain amount of physical ability. The landing involves transferring from the boat to the island via an inflatable craft. Landings vary, depending on conditions. Our preferred method involves stepping from the inflatable onto the wharf or climbing up a ladder (depending on tide), crossing a narrow platform and finally climbing over some boulders. You must be able to walk on an uneven surface for up to two hours and there are no facilities on White Island. 

What happens if we can’t land on the island?
If we are unable to land due to sea or weather conditions it means we didn't forecast conditions accurately so a full refund is given. If we aren't able to land due to an unexpected volcanic event a refund is not provided (this is very unlikely!)

How do we make a booking?

BOOK NOW!

Bookings can be made online using the above link, by phone, fax or email.  When making a booking please advise:

  • Your first name and family/surname
  • Number of passengers
  • Your contact phone number for the evening before the tour
  • Where (town/city) you will be travelling from on the morning of the tour
  • Method of payment (cc/cash/voucher).  If you have a pre- paid voucher please advise the voucher number.

Email:  Enquiry Form
Tel:     0800 733 529  or +64 7 308 9588
Fax:    +64 7 308 0303

WHO CAN JOIN A WHITE ISLAND TOUR

White Island - Physical AblilityChildren on White Island

White Island is an amazing natural laboratory for all sorts of people to experience and enjoy!

However we must remember that White Island is a constantly active volcano and all who take the tour are taking a risk. 

There is no maximum age limit.  However, the trip does call for a certain amount of physical ability. You must be able to walk on an uneven surface for up to two hours and there are no facilities on White Island such as handrails, toilets or rest areas.

Recommended Minimum Age

We feel it is important that parents are made aware of the risks of bringing young children on to White Island. Due the to the reasons listed below, children under the age of 4 years will not be permited to land on White Island. Please note that while we will enforce a minimum of age of 4 years, we strongly recommend that the tour is more suitable for those 8 years of age and over.

  • The safety gear (hard hat and gas mask) that everyone is required to wear on the volcano are only available in adult sizes and therefore do not fit properly on small children.
  • The boat journey to and from the island is an hour and a half each way across the open sea and a lot of young children do not cope well with this.
  • Getting on and off the island involves a transfer via inflatable boat to an old jetty where passengers must climb out of the inflatable, up a ladder suspended on to the side of the jetty, across a platform which spans a gap in the jetty and over some boulders on the foreshore. There is obvious risk involved in this transfer, particularly when the sea conditions are not so calm.
  • The tour on the volcano lasts for one and a half to two hours and young children often find this difficult to cope with.
  • There are lots of hot spots on White Island which are dangerous and difficult to see. Visitors must stick to the path that the guide leads them along and not wander off. The guide’s instructions must be strictly followed and parents must make sure that they look after their young children at all times.
  • The acidic environment on White Island is harsh on young lungs and many young children would find it uncomfortable.

Pregnant Women

There is no indication that pregnant women who have visited White Island have suffered any harmful side effects from their visit. Although there have been no scientific studies relating directly to pregnant women, in 2002 the University of Canterbury researched the effects of sulphur dioxide fumes on non-pregnant visitors to the island and concluded that there were no harmful side effects whatsoever. However, we do recommend that you ask your doctor about the matter prior to visiting the island. The main gases that are emitted from the vents on the island are primarily steam, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide.

There are other risks that you need to be aware of though as follows:

  • The gases on the island can be quite pungent. If you are not feeling particularly well as it is, they may cause you some discomfort. Everyone is issued with a gas mask to help with this and it is usually easy enough to move away from the steam clouds.
  • The boat trip to and from the island takes about an hour and a half each way into the open sea.  Depending on the sea conditions, passengers may be prone to sea sickness and sometimes pregnancy can bring on or worsen seasickness.
  • Getting on and off the island involves a transfer via inflatable boat to an old jetty where passengers must climb out of the inflatable, up a ladder suspended on to the side of the jetty, across a platform which spans a gap in the jetty and over some boulders on the foreshore. There is always the risk of injury during this transfer, particularly when the sea conditions are not so calm.
  • The tour on the volcano lasts for one and a half to two hours so you need to be on your feet for this duration.  There are no rest areas on the island. There is no major hill climbing involved in the tour but the surface of the volcano is uneven and unstable. You walk over rubble most of the time and it is therefore easy to slip over if you are not careful.
  • You are at least hour away from medical assistance.

We feel it is important that you are made aware of the risks that everyone is subject to when they decide to visit White Island but ultimately we leave the decision up to you.  We have certainly taken pregnant women onto the island in the past. 

GROUPS/CHARTERS/CRUISE SHIP MEETINGS

EDUCATIONAL GROUPS

Westmount High School on White IslandPukekohe High School on White Island

White Island provides a fantastic opportunity for students to put what they are learning in the classroom into a real life situation!  The smell of the sulphur, the feel of the volcanic rock, tasting the acidic streams, seeing the extraordinary sight of the mighty main crater of an active volcano can be a once in a lifetime opportunity for students.

Lunch, safety gear and landing permits are all inclusive in the day which makes it much easier for the group organizer!

SPECIAL INTEREST AND HOBBY GROUPS

White Island - GROUPS AND CHARTERSWhite Island - GROUPS AND CHARTERS

White Island Tours is experienced in hosting a variety of groups from Tramping Clubs and Photography Clubs to Social Clubs and Geology enthusiasts.  In the off peak season we offer special prices for special interest and hobby groups.

CHARTERS

Please contact Patrick to discuss charter options and rates for your group.

CRUISE SHIP MEETINGS

Please contact Patrick to discuss the options of meeting cruise ships at White Island or for options from the Port of Tauranga.