Whakaari/ White Island – still rumbling.

The Whakatane Heads is the place to be on a hot January day, the sea breeze takes the edge off the heat and the water is warm if you care to take a dip. I was expecting a rough sea, forecast after a South Pacific cyclone but instead found the surf school teaching young holiday makers at the river mouth.

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50 km off shore, Whakaari White Island spewed steam into the clear Bay of Plenty sky, a constant reminder of the tragic December eruption which took 20 lives, 2 of whom are yet to be found. IMG_1225

It’s been a busy holiday season in the Whakatane area. Perfect weather has attracted visitors in droves but the island reminds us that families are suffering the loss and injury of their loved ones. Two young tour guides from Whakatane suffered horrific injuries in the eruption. Both are out of intensive care now and are on the mend but still undergoing regular surgeries. It will be months yet before they are well enough to go home.


The White Island Tours boats have been tied up at the wharf for over a month but have just started trips to Moutohora, Whale Island instead. Moutohora is a pest free wildlife sanctuary just a 15 minute boat ride from Whakatane. It’s home to tuatara, a remnant of the dinosaurs, the endangered tieke – saddle back and other birds and is a nursery for juvenile kiwi. I visited about 10 years ago soon after the restoration work began. It would be interesting to go back and see the progress.





  1. The news cycle moves on and people forget about Whaakari, but without knowing any of the injured I think often of the pain they are suffering and their long road of rehab. I’m glad the Whale Island trips are running – that’s somewhere I would really like to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right and only because these youngsters are local we get regular updates. They’re making progress but every day must be an absolute grind for them and their families.
      I haven’t been to Whale Island for quite some time and I’d like to go again too. Might see you there 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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