2 March 2011
From Whakatane via
White Island (Vulcano)
2 March 2011
From Whakatane via White Island (Active Vulcano)
in the Bay Of Plenty to Roturua.
It's wednesday morning the 2nd of March 2011. We went early to bed yesterday evening and because of that we woke up early too. The sun is shining already as someone of PeeJay the White Islands Tours organisation calls to tell us that we can go today. I'm a lucky man, because the 2008 trip was cancelled 3 times. So we took our shower and a cup of coffee (Jaap without breakfast) and drove to the quay where the Pee Jay boats are situated. No breakfast because Jaap is seasick within minutes and with waves of 15 cm, he is out of balance in no time ..... We pay for the trip and after all the visitors are on board we're leaving Whakatane Wharf at 09.30 am. PeeJay V is a 73 foot luxury launch, purpose built for the tours to White Island. The vessel has a cruising speed of 19 knots, thanks to twin 750hp Scania motors. On board 35 passengers and a crew of 6 from PeeJay. Funny is that all the guides / crew members are walking bare footed.
The crew member are serving thea and other refreshments. White Island volcano is estimated to be between 150,000 to 200,000 years old. It was named White Island by Captain Cook, the first European to sight the island. This was in 1769 and as he noted in the Endeavour’s log book, “We called it White for as such it always appear’d to us”. Cook, however, did not come close enough to realise it was a volcano.
After about 80 minutes (and 49 kilometers) we arrive in the neighbourhood of White Island. The crew gives us our safety gear; a hard hat and gas mask and we leave the PeeJay vessel and sail in an inflatable boat to a concrete jetty. There is a short ladder and then we're in the middle of a real active vulcano. WOW..
Walking on White Island is like walking on the moon. Due to the active vulcano there is hardly no vegetation on the island. The tour starts near the old sulpher mine that was destroyed by the last big eruption of 1914. Now we're really starting our 2 hour fully guided walking tour of White Island's inner crater area. The crew give a lot of information, but they also take good care of us. One member at the front of the group and one at the back guide us over the island.The on the island placed seismic instruments give up-to-date information about possible eartquakes. Those instruments gave in 2008 the warning of an upcoming earthquake so my third try for White Island didn't go. And luckely because that afternoon there was a small earthquake. We're lucky that there were no warnings this time, so we can enjoy the extreme way this vulcano is presented to us.
It gives a real kick to walk here. We walk via some viewpoints to a cliff were steam is roaring out of Mother Earth. The sound is like a number of trains are rolling towards you. Couple by couple the guides are taking pictures of us standing before those roaring steam outlets. The we go further to the real crater. The guide gives the sign to out the gas mask on because of the toxic substances. Karin is a bit to slow and a violent coughing and a lot of tears in the eyes is the result. About a minute later she's able to breathe normal again and we can go on. At the edge of the crater we see green, toxic and steamy water. We are lucky the guide tells us because sometimes there is such a mist that you can't even see the crater lake. We continue ourr walk alongside the edge of the crater lake and soon we get the signal that that we can remove our gas masks again. Clear oxygen ans really it "tastes" good.
After about 2 hours we're back at the remainings of the sulpher mine. What an experience. Our group is leaving the island with the last inflatable boat back to the PeeJay vessel. Back on the vessel some of the passengers take the oppertunity to swim around the vessel for a while. The rest is quiet and the mind is busy with all the latest impressions. We take a small tour alongside the coast and the bay's of White Island; giving us oppertunities to make some nice pictures, before the PeeJay vessel is heading back to Whakatane. White Island is getting smaller and smaller at the horizon. I'm a deck tourist on the way back; I'm staying at the back of the vessel and get a lot of sea-spray over me. At this way, sitting outsie, I have no problems with seasicknes and I can enjoy the trip back to the fullest. Unfortunately the ocean is a bit to wild to discover and encounter whales an dolphins but we have more oppertunities ahead.
After 1 hour and 45 minutes the PeeJay vessel enters the harbour of Whakatane Wharf and moors at the quay. The crew forms a double row and thanks everody in person for joining them this day. Nice people with a lot of knowledge of what they're doing. Back in the campervan we make a nice cup of coffee, have something to eat and drive to the center of th e city to get some money at the ATM. Then we leave Whakatane and we're heading for Rotorua our next destination were we sleep at the Blue Lake Top 10 Holiday Park. The park is situated south-east of Lake Rotorua about 8 kilometers from the lake. There is the Holiday Park near the Blue Lake. There are 2 lakes with in th emiddle a viewpoint where you can see both lakes. On days with sunshine you can see their colours from about 10.00 am till 14.00 pm. The sun gives the 2 lakes different colours. We register at the bookingoffice and get a pitch next to the woods. It's a beautiful spot. Karin makes a dinner and we take it in the campervan. I put some pictures at our site and we share our story for family and friend. The we go to bed early. Tomorrowmorning we go rafting. Karin is telling everybody, since months, that if she will survive this THEN her holiday will start.