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Published: September 20th 2011
Up until today, I'd only ever seen White Island from the Bay of Plenty. Since I'm staying so close to where the White Island Tours launch from, I decided to splurge and book myself in. I wasn't disappointed.
Just as morning tea was being served on the boat trip out to the island, whales were spotted nearby. The boat swung around and we spent about fifteen minutes watching a pod of orcas swim around.
We were right above a reef where a mum and two little ones were feeding. Even when the bull swam over, they stuck around for a few more minutes. It was an exciting start to the day.
Just before arriving at the volcano we were given hard hats (mandatory at all times) and gas masks (optional, except during a major eruption). Once we'd been transported to the dock in a zodiac, we were given instructions on how to survive a major eruption (highly unlikely, but not impossible).
The guides led us around the crater, past fumaroles, gas seeps in the water and mud, to the crater lake. The wind shifted just long enough for us to get a glimpse of the crater lake.
As a geologist, it was pretty cool to be on a volcano--I only wish I knew more about igneous rocks and minerals and processes. The volcano is protected, so I couldn't take any samples, but they probably would have corroded through my bags at some point anyway.
On the way back to the dock we explored the ruins of the old mine site, where everything was rusty and dusty.
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