White Island Tours

Excursion / Last updated 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Join White Island Tours on an incredible 6 hour journey to White Island - located 49km off the coast of Whakatane, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. From the classroom to the crater - White Island gives students the opportunity to step foot inside the fascinating laboratory of an active volcano.

Field Trip to White Island - Active Marine Volcano

An overview of what the day involves:

Check-in is at White Island Tours reception at 15 the Strand East, Whakatane.   Here every one will receive a boarding pass and make their way over to the boat, which is just across the road.   

The journey out to White Island is 80 minutes, during which the different guides give commentary as we pass places of interest such as the Whakatane heads, Statue of Wairaka, Whale Island etc. We issue all passengers with safety gear as we get close to White Island – this consists of a hard hat and gas mask.

Upon reaching White Island, we anchor in the bay, explain some of the history of the island and instruct the passengers on what is involved with the transfer and what they need to take onto the Island.  We then launch our smaller purpose-built inflatable boat and transfer passengers in small groups over to the wharf.  When the inflatable is firmly tied to the wharf, each person must step onto the side of the inflatable and then onto a ladder which is suspended on the side of the concrete jetty.  Depending on the tide, there may be 2 – 6 rungs to climb to get onto the wharf, then everyone must walk over a metal plank (with hand rail), which joins two parts of the wharf, over some boulders and then onto the beach. 

Here the fully guided tour commences with two guides – one at the front and one at the back of the group.  The lead guide gives a full safety briefing before setting off. 

The tour lasts 1 ½ - 2 hours and is very educational, covering scientific/volcanic facts, island history, information on the scientific and monitoring equipment that GNS have out there, wildlife, plant life, tour of the old sulphur mining factory, history of the miners etc.  It is a very interesting tour with plenty of stops.  Information is given out in an easy to understand manner and relates to what surrounds you.  The guides are very experienced in tailoring the tour to suit the audience and gauge the level of interest, when to move on etc.

Once the tour is complete every one makes their way back to the wharf, and the transfer back onto the boat is via the same system.  Once back aboard the boat there is time for people to eat the supplied packed lunch.

Depending on conditions, we then go for a cruise to some places of interest – in the winter months there are NZ fur seals on the rocks around the island, and in summer, large colonies of Australasian gannets.  We also have a look at the site of the minors’ living quarters etc. before heading home.

On both the journey to and from the island we keep a sharp lookout for dolphins, whales etc which are commonly spotted in this area – and we have a permit to spend time with them (taking photos etc.). 

All passengers must read and sign our Safety Terms and Customer Declaration Form.  With all school groups we send out the form to be signed by parents and caregivers for any under 18year olds.  This is for our records – and to ensure that everyone (parents/caregivers and teachers) are aware of the risks involved in the tour (live volcano/sea journey etc). 

Located just 9km off the coast of Whakatane lies Moutohora (also known as Whale Island) which is a protected pest-free island sanctuary.  Moutohora provides a natural haven for some of New Zealands indigenous birds, reptiles and vegetation.  Access onto Moutohora is restricted, White Island Tours is priveleged to hold a concession to take visitors to experience conservation in action on Moutohora.  If your group is interested in experiencing both White Island - active volcano and Moutohora - Island Sanctuary please contact us for pricing.

Accommodation is available at White Island Rendezvous which is located across the road from where the boat departs making it a convient option for tour groups.  PeeJays Coffee House is located onsite at White Island Rendezvous which offers catering for visiting groups.

White Island Tours Ltd is a registered adventure activity provider and have risk management information for school groups which will be sent on request.


Patrick O'Sullivan
15 The Strand East
New Zealand
PO Box 529
New Zealand