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Whakaari / white island eruption: id tours fails to get health and safety charge dismissed.

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ID Tours is facing a four-month trial this year, alongside other tourism companies, Crown Research Institute GNS Science, and the island's owners, the Buttles. Photo: GNS

A booking agent that helped cruise ship passengers visit Whakaari / White Island has failed in a bid to have a health and safety charge dismissed.

ID Tours is one of 12 parties accused of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act, leading up to the eruption in 2019.

The company is facing a four-month trial this year, alongside other tourism companies, Crown Research Institute GNS Science, and the island's owners, the Buttles.

Twenty-two people died from horrific burns and blast injuries after the eruption at the submarine volcano in December 2019.

Forty-seven people were on the crater at the time - most were cruise ship passengers visiting with White Island Tours.

ID Tours said its work and obligations in the supply chain did not extend onto the island.

But on Tuesday afternoon, Judge Evangelos Thomas rejected this, delivering his decision in Whakatāne District Court.

"Did ID Tours Ltd owe a duty to tourists on Whakaari? Yes," Judge Thomas said.

"ID Tours acted as a conduit between overseas entities and local tour operators to facilitate the tour booking process ... It remained in constant contact about passenger numbers, cancellations, and any other relevant information for the timely provision of Whakaari excursions."

Judge Thomas referred to evidence from WorkSafe - including a document ID Tours provided to the cruise line Royal Caribbean.

"It [ID Tours] represented that it operates adventurous tours, and quote: 'We live and breathe our safety management system ... This covers ... all risk assessments ... sightseeing venues ... emergency procedures and safety procedures'."

On Monday, ID Tours' lawyer David Neutze argued "The supply chain is being taken too far".

Besides reconciling bookings, ID Tours also ensured "that the right number of passengers got onto the bus in Tauranga and then back off the bus when they came back from a tour", Neutze said.

But WorkSafe's lawyer Kirsty McDonald KC said "far from having a passive or truly administrative role, ID Tours was required to be proactive in ensuring that it obtained and provided health and safety information to Royal Caribbean through to the tourists".

"They had a proactive responsibility and were more than just a ticketing agent," she said.

The trial is due to start in July.

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Did the survivors of White Island sue?

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After the tragic volcanic eruption on White Island in New Zealand, survivors and families of the victims pursued legal actions seeking justice and compensation. Here are some of the key questions and answers surrounding the lawsuits:

1. Did the people on White Island sue?

Yes, survivors and families of the victims filed lawsuits against various entities involved in the White Island eruption, including the cruise operator and tour companies.

2. Did White Island survivors get compensation?

Yes, survivor grants were provided to the families of the victims. Spouses or partners received $6,766, and each child under 18 or other dependents received $3,383. Additional financial support was given to parents or caregivers of children under 16.

3. Did White Island Tours get charged?

Negligence charges were initially brought against two tourism agencies, including White Island Tours. However, these charges were later dismissed by the court.

4. Did the White Island helicopter pilots get charged?

The directors of Whakaari Management Limited, which granted licenses to tour operators, including helicopter pilots, were charged as individuals for their roles in managing the island.

5. White Island volcano survivors sue Royal Caribbean and New Zealand tour company?

Yes, an American couple who survived the eruption filed a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean and ID Tours New Zealand Ltd, seeking compensation for the traumatic experience.

6. Who has been charged over White Island?

The Buttle trio, consisting of Andrew, James, and Peter Buttle, were charged as directors of Whakaari Management Limited for failing to exercise due diligence in managing the risks associated with White Island.

7. Who was charged for Whakaari?

Multiple individuals and entities were originally charged in relation to the White Island eruption. However, most of the charges were dismissed, leaving Whakaari Management Limited as the sole defendant.

8. Do they still allow tours on Whakaari?

Tours to Whakaari/White Island are currently suspended following the eruption. However, scenic flights are still available as the island remains off-limits to foot traffic.

9. Did the White Island Tours plead guilty?

Yes, White Island Tours pleaded guilty to charges related to failing to ensure the health and safety of both their workers and other persons. The charges carry a maximum fine of $1.5 million.

10. Are White Island Tours cancelled?

Yes, all tours to Whakaari/White Island were cancelled after the eruption due to safety concerns.

11. Did volcano survivors sue?

Yes, survivors of the volcanic eruption have filed lawsuits seeking compensation for the damages and traumatic experience they endured.

12. Did anyone helicoptered off White Island survive?

Two out of the twelve people who were rescued by helicopter survived the eruption. Tragically, the majority of the individuals on the island during the eruption lost their lives.

13. Was the White Island company found guilty?

Yes, the company managing White Island, White Island Tours Limited, was found guilty of failing to adequately protect visitors and ensure their safety.

14. What happened to Jesse Langford’s sister?

Jesse Langford’s sister was never found after the eruption. It is speculated that her body may have been washed into a stream and swept out to sea.

15. Who owns White Island now?

White Island is owned by the Whakaari Trust, whose shareholders are Peter, Andrew, and James Buttle.

16. Is the New Zealand volcano guilty?

The New Zealand firm managing the volcano, White Island Tours Limited, was found guilty of failing to protect visitors and ensuring their safety.

17. How much damage did White Island do?

The eruption on White Island resulted in the tragic loss of eighteen lives and caused serious injuries to 26 individuals. The survivors suffered from burns, lung injuries, and deep-tissue burns.

18. How many tourists were on White Island?

Approximately 47 people, mostly tourists from various countries, were on White Island during the eruption.

19. What happens on White Island?

White Island is an active volcano that attracts tourists who can visit the island by boat or helicopter. However, after the eruption in December 2019, all tours were suspended, and the island remains off-limits to foot traffic.

20. Can you go to White Island now?

Currently, tours to White Island are not allowed due to safety concerns. However, scenic flights are still available to observe the island from the air.

21. Who are the Buttle family?

The Buttle family, consisting of Peter, Andrew, and James Buttle, inherited the ownership of White Island and were charged for their roles in managing the risks associated with the volcano.

22. Why were tours allowed on White Island?

Tours were allowed on White Island, as volcanic eruptions are generally infrequent and considered relatively safe. However, the tragic eruption on White Island highlighted the risks involved, leading to increased scrutiny and legal actions against tour operators.

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Whakaari/White Island eruption: Tourism company ID Tours applies to have WorkSafe charge dropped

Kelly Makiha

Kelly Makiha

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A still taken from a tourist boat when Whakaari White Island erupted in December 2019. Photo / Supplied

A tourist booking agent involved in helping cruise ship passengers visit Whakaari/White Island has applied to have a WorkSafe charge laid in the wake of an eruption that killed 22 people in 2019 thrown out.

Auckland-based company ID Tours was one of 13 parties initially charged under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 following the tragedy.

The company applied to have its charge dismissed at a hearing in the Whakatāne District Court today.

Judge Evangelos Thomas has reserved his decision until tomorrow.

Forty-seven people were on the island, off the coast of Whakatāne, when it erupted on December 9, 2019. Twenty-two died from extreme burns and blast injuries. Most of the people on the island were international tourists.

Tourists are ferried off Whakaari White Island after the eruption. Photo / Michael Schade

Nine organisations, including ID Tours, face a charge under section 36 of the act for allegedly failing to ensure the health and safety of workers and others.

Counsel for ID Tours, David Neutze, told Judge Thomas Worksafe’s investigation was flawed and too broad.

He argued ID Tours was too removed from the tourist activities on the island to be held responsible.

Counsel for WorkSafe Kristy McDonald KC said ID Tours was an inbound tour operator and was an important link between cruise ship company Royal Caribbean, which docked at the Port of Tauranga, and White Island Tours.

McDonald said it was more than a ticketing agent and was required to be proactive in providing health and safety information. She said it had more than just an administrative role.

WorkSafe has laid charges against the island’s owner Whakaari Management Limited and its directors Andrew, James and Peter Buttle; GNS Science; White Island Tours Limited; Volcanic Air Safaris Limited; Aerius Limited; Kahu NZ Limited; Inflite Charters Limited; ID Tours New Zealand Limited; and Tauranga Tourism Services Limited.

All defendants have pleaded not guilty.

The three individuals are charged under section 44 of the act, which requires directors, or individuals with significant influence over a company to exercise due diligence that the company is meeting its health and safety obligations under the act.

A charge against the National Emergency Management Agency was dropped last year.

The four-month trial for the remaining defendants is set to take place from July 10 this year. A judge last month rejected GNS Science’s arguments for its charges to be trialled separately.

The Buttle family has owned the island since 1936.

The charges do not relate to the rescue operation after the eruption.

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Id tours fails to get health and safety charge dismissed over white island.

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ID Tours is facing a four-month trial this year, alongside other tourism companies, Crown...

  • First published on RNZ

ID Tours is one of 12 parties accused of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act, leading up to the eruption in 2019.

The company is facing a four-month trial this year, alongside other tourism companies, Crown Research Institute GNS Science, and the island's owners, the Buttles.

Twenty-two people died from horrific burns and blast injuries after the eruption at the submarine volcano in December 2019.

Forty-seven people were on the crater at the time - most were cruise ship passengers visiting with White Island Tours.

ID Tours said its work and obligations in the supply chain did not extend onto the island.

But on Tuesday afternoon, Judge Evangelos Thomas rejected this, delivering his decision in Whakatāne District Court.

"Did ID Tours Ltd owe a duty to tourists on Whakaari? Yes," Judge Thomas said.

"ID Tours acted as a conduit between overseas entities and local tour operators to facilitate the tour booking process ... It remained in constant contact about passenger numbers, cancellations, and any other relevant information for the timely provision of Whakaari excursions."

Judge Thomas referred to evidence from WorkSafe - including a document ID Tours provided to the cruise line Royal Caribbean.

"It [ID Tours] represented that it operates adventurous tours, and quote: 'We live and breathe our safety management system ... This covers ... all risk assessments ... sightseeing venues ... emergency procedures and safety procedures'."

On Monday, ID Tours' lawyer David Neutze argued "The supply chain is being taken too far".

Besides reconciling bookings, ID Tours also ensured "that the right number of passengers got onto the bus in Tauranga and then back off the bus when they came back from a tour", Neutze said.

But WorkSafe's lawyer Kirsty McDonald KC said "far from having a passive or truly administrative role, ID Tours was required to be proactive in ensuring that it obtained and provided health and safety information to Royal Caribbean through to the tourists".

"They had a proactive responsibility and were more than just a ticketing agent," she said.

The trial is due to start in July.

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White Island is pictured off the coast of New Zealand

Volcano tourist disaster trial hears White Island owners put profits before safety

New Zealand court looks into alleged health and safety failings after 22 died in eruption

Tourists on New Zealand’s volcanic Whakaari/White Island were not given any health and safety information in the lead up to a deadly eruption, a prosecutor has alleged on the opening day of a landmark trial over the disaster.

In a daylong opening address, prosecutor Kirsty McDonald accused the island’s owners of putting profits before safety.

Twenty-two people, most of them tourists, died from extreme burns and blast injuries when Whakaari erupted on 9 December 2019, with many of the 25 survivors injured.

The owners of the island, and their company, are among six defendants facing a lengthy trial on charges related to health and safety failings, to which they have pleaded not guilty. The judge-only trial follows the most extensive and complex investigation ever conducted by New Zealand’s labour inspectorate, and several other companies responsible for visitors to the island have already admitted to charges against them.

In her opening address, McDonald described the area many were located when the volcano erupted as “the heart of the crater”. Two weeks before the fatal eruption, experts monitoring its seismic activity raised the volcanic alert level to 2, indicating “moderate to heightened volcanic unrest”.

McDonald described the volcano as unpredictable and volatile, noting that its previous eruption in 2016 had come without warning. She alleged the island’s owners – Andrew, James and Peter Buttle – never bothered to know the risks, had no health and safety procedures, and attempted to divert responsibility to tour operators to whom they charged annual licence fees and commissions per customer.

“Profit should never come before safety,” she said in her summary of the case against the owners.

The three brothers, along with their company, Whakaari Management Limited, and ID Tours New Zealand and Tauranga Tourism Services have all had criminal charges brought against them by New Zealand’s workplace safety regulator, Worksafe, which allege they breached workplace safety laws.

The organisations face maximum fines of NZ$1.5m and individuals face maximum fines of NZ$300,000.

Worksafe alleges Andrew, James and Peter Buttle and Whakaari Management Limited (WML), “failed to obtain expert advice on how WML could ensure that guided tours of Whakaari were conducted safely”.

McDonald accused ID Tours New Zealand and Tauranga Tourism Services of failing to provide adequate warning and protection against possible eruptions to their customers.

Hard hats were provided and required, but other protective clothing was not. Many visitors were dressed in T-shirt and shorts when they should have been in overalls and sturdy boots made of heat-resistant material. While gas masks were offered, they were often unfit for purpose, McDonald said.

Defence lawyers said their clients were not responsible for the health and safety of those on the island as that was the responsibility of others.

In 2020, WorkSafe first laid charges against 13 parties they considered not to have met their obligations under the health and safety act. Since then, six parties have pleaded guilty. One has had its charges dismissed.

The Buttle family acquired Whakaari/White Island in 1936. It is the only privately owned volcano in New Zealand, and is New Zealand’s most active volcano.

The trial opened on Monday with a mihi whakatau , a Māori welcome ceremony in the courtroom. Condolences were given to grieving families and survivors, some of whom had travelled back to New Zealand as witnesses.

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Whakaari White Island is owned by one NZ family. Today three brothers face charges over the volcano's deadly 2019 eruption

An aerial image shows a volcanic island emitting white smoke surrounded by clear blue sea on a clear day.

In 1936 Whakaari White Island was an unusual acquisition for Auckland stockbroker George Buttle, who would eventually pass the private island onto his son and then his grandsons.

Buttle decided not to develop the island. It had erupted before and attempts to mine sulphur or extract salt had all failed.  

Eventually James, Peter and Andrew Buttle would come to inherit the volcano, but today they will face court over its deadly 2019 eruption.

Tourists were in the crater and watching on from a nearby cruise ship when the volcano moved beyond its level 2 warning and into a full-scale eruption.

Forty-seven people were on the island at the time. Twenty-two people died, including 17 Australians.

It has been a very long wait for closure for the families of those who died and for the people who were on the volcano that day, survived its eruption and now live with the scars.

Criminal charges were brought by Worksafe NZ, which alleged the three Buttle brothers, as well as 10 other parties, breached workplace safety laws. 

Worksafe NZ alleges Andrew, James and Peter Buttle and Whakaari Management Limited (WML), the company they are directors of, "failed to obtain expert advice on how WML could ensure that guided tours of Whakaari were conducted safely". 

In total, Worksafe NZ sought to prosecute 13 parties, including research institute and volcano monitor GNS Science, the New Zealand Emergency Management Agency and a number of tourism operators. 

The charges were laid at the end of 2020 and initially every defendant entered a plea of not guilty, but since then several have changed their plea and one had the charges dismissed. 

On Friday afternoon, in the final hearing before the trial was set to begin, three more defendants entered guilty pleas.

The Buttle brothers and their company WML are proceeding to trial, as are the defendants ID Tours New Zealand and Tauranga Tourism Services. 

The role of the supply chain between tour operator and customer will be another major part of this case.

Because ID Tours New Zealand worked as a booking agent, helping cruise ship passengers to visit Whakaari, and Tauranga Tourism Services was the local agent for tour company White Island Tours. 

"The evidence provided by WorkSafe is that it has become common in the tourism industry to have single entities operating as part of a single chain from point of sale to delivery of adventure activities," Judge Evangelos Thomas wrote in an earlier finding. 

"Although that is likely due to practical operational reasons, it runs counter to the Act's purpose that a consequence would be less protection."

ID Tours New Zealand, the Buttles and their company WML all sought to have charges against them dropped, but their applications were denied. 

After more than two years of legal process, the trial finally gets underway this morning. 

For some of the Australian families watching proceedings, this moment marks the start of their best opportunity for closure. 

'There was only the two of us'

A middle-aged woman wearing glasses and a floral dress poses for a head-and-shoulders photo.

Meredith Dallow last saw her brother Gavin as they were leaving a hospital in Adelaide where their mother was receiving cancer treatment. 

It was towards the end of 2019 and Gavin, his partner and stepdaughter were heading off on a holiday aboard the Ovation of the Seas cruise. 

"We walked Gavin to the car and said, 'We'll see you next year,'" Meredith said. 

"And he got in the car and off he drove." 

On the night of December 9, Meredith saw a story on the news about cruise ship passengers that had been on Whakaari as it erupted and saw the images of the thick steam, ash and debris over the island. 

She found her brother's holiday itinerary and started to call his phone. 

"When we weren't getting any answers … I rang Caribbean cruise line … and we were told that yes, their names were on the list of passengers that had been on the island, that had participated on the island tour that day. So then we knew," Meredith said.

Gavin and his 15-year-old stepdaughter Zoe Hosking were killed.

Lisa Dallow — wife of Gavin and mother of Zoe — was placed in an induced coma with severe burns, and only  learned of her loved ones' deaths weeks after the eruption .

White Island volcano victims Gavin Dallow and Zoe Hosking.

Meredith and Gavin made all the decisions about their ageing parents' care together.

"Whenever we needed him, he was at the end of the phone and would always come and help me," she said. 

"Now that he's not here, I've sort of got really nobody. No support person. No immediate family as such. There was only the two of us."

Guilty pleas and dismissed charges 

There is an ongoing coronial inquiry into the deaths in the Whakaari disaster, and after that families will receive final death certificates for the loved ones who died. 

The Worksafe NZ matter will need to be resolved first, so the start of the trial is an important sign of progress for people like Meredith.

The coronial process is likely to give her more information about what happened to her brother that day, but the Worksafe NZ trial will be an opportunity to learn about the factors that led up to it and the series of events that placed a group of tourists on an active volcano. 

"Our main thing is that the owners of the island were charged, and that they're held accountable and the tour company," Meredith said. 

"They're the main ones that we are looking for answers from. 

"No-one should have been there that day. No-one should have been on the island full stop."

Judge Thomas said the Buttles' application to have charges against them dismissed was "almost successful". 

The charges were then amended to focus on the allegation that the Buttles did not obtain expert advice on the risk to the workers and tourists on the island.  

White Island Tours pleaded guilty last week, with WorkSafe chief executive Phil Parkes saying that decision was highly significant.

"We hope the decision of White Island Tours will provide some assurance to the survivors and family and whānau of those who passed that those who had a duty to ensure their safety and failed to do so are being held to account," he said.   

Yesterday, a mihi whakatau, a Māori welcome ceremony, was held in the courtroom ahead of the trial beginning this morning.  

Given the immense public interest in this case, Australian families and other interested parties are able to watch proceedings via a private live stream. 

A public viewing has also been set up in Whakatane, the town closest to Whakaari and home to many of the first responders.

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Here's what tourists would have seen when they arrived at White Island

Whakaari rises out of the sea its crater clearly visible.

WorkSafe New Zealand charges 13 parties over White Island eruption tragedy

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Join White Island Tours on a journey to discover the incredible active marine volcano that is White Island!

Departing from Whakatāne in the Bay of Plenty, you’ll join our friendly crew aboard one of our fleet of boats and head 49km off the coast towards White Island, New Zealand’s only active marine volcano.

Upon arrival, we’ll disembark directly into the crater complex. No climbing is required as this is one of the world’s most accessible live volcanoes. Our experienced and knowledgeable guides will take you on a fascinating guided tour to explore White Island’s inner crater. Hear about the interesting history and geology of White Island as you discover first-hand the magic of this sensational volcano. Get up close to roaring steam vents, bubbling pits of mud, hot volcanic streams, the amazing lake of steaming acid and see the remains of the island’s Sulphur factory. Following this once in a lifetime journey into a volcano crater you will return to the boat and be served a picnic style packed lunch before we depart for the return trip to Whakatāne.

The area is also home to dolphins, whales and other marine life and viewing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat is a great way to end an already amazing day. You’re only a few clicks away from what can only be described as a truly unique and awe-inspiring adventure…

Qualmark Endorsed Visitor Activity and Qualmark Enviro-Gold.

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  • Amazing volcano in the middle of the ocean.
  • Nice trip to a natural volcanic island.
  • Excellent tour to the White Island by boat.
  • Very good guided tours of volcanic activety.
  • Awesome tour to the volcanic island.
A truely wonderful experience that any traveller to NZ should experience. A highly professional and informative crew who go above and beyond to ensure guest are looked after and given the best possible experience. Do not miss this one!

Reviewed over 4 years ago

Matthew Mutimer's avatar

Matthew Mutimer

Absolutely fabulous a must see when visiting NZ. Everyone that worked at White Island Tours are very passionate and knowledgeable. Don't visit without doing this tour it truly is a trip of a lifetime.

Reviewed almost 7 years ago

Amanda Walden's avatar

Amanda Walden

Hi Amanda, We're so happy to hear that you enjoyed your visit to White Island with us, and thank you for taking the time to write this review and share your experience. You're kind recommendation is very much appreciated also!

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Top good service. Good information

Reviewed about 7 years ago

Monique Pos's avatar

Monique Pos

Hi Monique, Thank you for your review - we're pleased to hear that you received "top service" during your visit to White Island. That is something we're most proud of!
You cannot walk on an active volcano every day!!

Reviewed almost 7 years ago and experienced in October 2016

Sylvain Chanton's avatar

Sylvain Chanton

We share your sentiments exactly, Sylvain! :)
A very well organised tour with great care taken with respect to the safety aspects. A good close encounter with the type of volcano that doesn't spew lava - mainly sulphur and steam. Heaps of information from the Guides. Not for the faint hearted getting on and off the landing boats. An exciting day all round. Not to be missed.

Alison Egan-Jones's avatar

Alison Egan-Jones

Hi Alison, Thank you for your comprehensive review. As you can imagine, lot of care and consideration goes into the safety aspect of our tours (we are on an active volcano afterall), so it was pleasing to hear that this did not go unappreciated! :)
Expensive but worth. Nice walk on the volcano with basic explanation. If you want to stay outside in the boat take a waterproof jacket. Lots of sick people. Stay outside in the middle of the boat!

Sylvain Schiber's avatar

Sylvain Schiber

Hi Sylvain, Thank you for taking the time to post your review. We're happy to hear that you enjoyed your tour of White Island with us! Cheers!
Great tour! one of the highlights of our holiday. I could not hear the information from the skipper on the upper dek of the Peejay, the noice of the engines, the wind etc. was too loud and the volume too low. The bot, lunch and guides were perfect.

Reviewed over 7 years ago

R. Damen's avatar

Hi R. Damen, Thank you for taking the time to post your review! We're thrilled you had such a great time visiting White Island with us and that it was one of the highlights of your holiday!
Wonderful guided tour around the island but a bit too expensive for a backpacker.

Julian Gury's avatar

Julian Gury

Hi Julian, We're pleased to hear that you enjoyed your visit to White Island with us, and thank you for taking the time to post your review.
Amazing - another world! Magnificent colours.

Reviewed over 7 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Anais Roux's avatar

Hi Anais Roux, Thank you for taking the time to post your review. We agree, White Island truly does feel like another world!! It was great to hear you enjoyed your tour with us - thank you kindly for the 10/10!
We wanted to do a trip to the Island nearby Whakatane. When we arrived at the office they told us it was cancelled because of the weather. They should have phoned us earlier, so we wouldn't have come all the way from Opotiki.

Reviewed almost 13 years ago

Sarah Luijckx's avatar

Sarah Luijckx

Due to the weather dependency of our tours we have a process whereby all passengers are contacted the night before their tour to confirm whether the tour is going ahead or not. On some occasions our skippers are unable to make a decision until the morning of departure in which case we contact all passengers from 8am onwards to advise if the trip is proceeding or has been cancelled. Unfortunately it appears that on this occasion the call was not received and for this we offer our sincere apologies.
We had read about this trip before we left home. It got great reviews which we can only endorse. It was an incredible experience! How many people can say they have walked on an active volcano?! The company was very professional and staff extremely friendly and helpful, allowing us to change our booking depending on the weather, rang us when they said to confirm the times, The lunch pack was generous and tasty. The boat trip was great and the guided walk on the island was amazing!! Most importantly, our guide Hayden was excellent, knowledgeable, informative and personable. It was the highlight of our trip to NZ.

Michelle Smit's avatar

Michelle Smit

Hi Michelle, We're so pleased that you had such a great time visiting White Island with us. It was particularly pleasing to hear that you found our staff to be so helpful, accommodating and knowledgeable! Visiting White Island is a truly unique experience, one that we were so pleased we got to share with you. Thank you for the kind review and recommendation - we hope you enjoyed the rest of your travels!
Awesome! Lots of dolphins on our 1.5 hour boat trip to White Island. Great experience to walk over an active volcano. Paradise to take photos! For $200 per person lunch should be better!

Reviewed over 7 years ago and experienced in January 2016

Luisa and Hannes's avatar

Luisa and Hannes

Hi Luisa and Hannes, it was great to hear that you had such an enjoyable time visiting White Island with us, taking in the abundant marine life along the way. We thank you for your feedback on the lunches. We realise that everyone has different tastes in food and have developed a packed lunch that is suitable (and hopefully enjoyed) by the majority. You may have noticed that it is fully vegetarian and also contains a number of components so that people are able to pick and choose the bits that they like from it. Unfortunately, the logistics of serving lunch 49km out to sea at an active volcano do limit us a little. For those that do want to add to their food options, we have a great selection of food in our café that can be purchased before the tour and taken aboard. Thanks again for visiting us and we hope to see you again in the future.
Really nice experience, can walk close to the crater. Really impressive.

Chloe Guerillot's avatar

Chloe Guerillot

Hi Chloe, Thank you for taking the time to leave your review. It was great to hear that you found the tour to White Island to be so impressive. We hope you enjoyed the rest of your visit to Whakatane and travels.
White Island was beautiful and the trip out there was too. We stopped two times to watch dolphins.

Reviewed over 7 years ago and experienced in February 2016

Signe Broedbaek's avatar

Signe Broedbaek

Thank you for your review - we're glad you enjoyed your visit to White Island.
We had a good (was a bit seasick) time on the boat, while watching dolphins and on the island itself. The crew was very friendly and helpful and also the guide was pretty nice.

Anna Jungclaus's avatar

Anna Jungclaus

Hi Anna, thank you for taking the time to review your tour with us. Sorry to hear that you were a little seasick but happy that you enjoyed your day with us!
Amazing volcano in the middle of the ocean. The way in might be hard if the waves are big, but totally worth it. Guides are going fast but take time to enjoy.

Florian Bisault's avatar

Florian Bisault

Hi Florian, thank you for visiting White Island with us and thank you for taking the time to leave a review.
Kinda expensive, which is the only down point to it. You definitely get a big package for the money. Walking the island felt pretty surreal, so cool! The team took good care and was really fun and you get a lunch package.

Luca Staudt's avatar

Luca Staudt

Hi Luca, thank you for leaving a review. We're glad you agree that the tour is good value for money despite the cost.
Nice thing to do but quite expensive. Boat trip is really long but great chance to see dolphins (sometimes even whales).

Reviewed almost 8 years ago

Gesa Roemer's avatar

Gesa Roemer

It's was unforgettable experience and you will never forget it

Reviewed almost 8 years ago and experienced in January 2016

elena salimzhanova's avatar

elena salimzhanova

Standing in the crater of an active volcano - a once in a lifetime experience!

Petra Fragner's avatar

Petra Fragner

Feels like you are on another planet.

Niclas Ullno's avatar

Niclas Ullno

Amazing nature with a nice little boat trip, but it was really expensive and our guide was talking in a bored way.

Tamara's avatar

A good camera is a must have when doing this tour.

Malina's avatar

Expressive! Awesome, cool Tour, best ever ! Dort Miss it.

Koehler Ute's avatar

Koehler Ute

Nice trip to a natural volcanic island. From Whakatane reached by boat (3 hours return), approximately 2 hours spent walking on the island with a guide. Pretty bad smell mostly, worth it.

Reviewed about 8 years ago

Jakub Trojanek's avatar

Jakub Trojanek

It was nice discovering the island but the company said the tour included the dolphins to watch but we only saw two dolphins in the distance. So it was expensive just to see the island.

Reviewed about 8 years ago and experienced in January 2015

Emilie Normand's avatar

Emilie Normand

Had a good time, a little pricey though. I have to admit I thought I was going to see burning hot lava :) haha shows how much I know about marine volcanoes lol An enjoyable boat ride there and information provided was interesting. A nice walk around island and talk by guides. Very smelly due to sulphur (stirred up my asthma quite a bit) A good experience though.

Reviewed almost 9 years ago

Emma Keegan's avatar

Emma Keegan

It was awesome, we were sailed to and guided on White Island, the guides were amazing but I feel like they could have shown us more.

Reviewed over 9 years ago and experienced in March 2014

Christopher Buch Madsen's avatar

Christopher Buch Madsen

Good informative guides, excellent venue. Very different lunch provided plus sick bags and flannels!

Phil Bromby's avatar

Phil Bromby

Only marked down because it's very expensive and there are definitely times to avoid doing this trip. If you get the right day, then even at the high price this rates as one of the best day trips you can have in this part of the country. Don't go after (or during) windy days or rough seas as the long boat ride becomes a misery with your fellow seasick companions. Best time to go is on a calm sunny day in December through Jan and early Feb following days of settled weather. At this time of year you'll be unlucky not to see flying fish, dolphin, schooling fish, have a swim off the boat at the island, and of course White Island is at its best. If you're lucky you'll also see pilot whales, orca, bottlenose dolphin, and be exhausted (don't plan to travel far afterwards) after a day in the sun and salt air.

Reviewed over 9 years ago and experienced in January 2013

Alex's avatar

Really nice views, perfect weather, awesome experience. Price is definitely too high.

Reviewed over 9 years ago and experienced in February 2014

Tobias Thull's avatar

Tobias Thull

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Explore NZ's only active marine volcano!

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For a truly unforgettable experience of a lifetime, talk to us about any of our scenic White Island Flights, departing Whakatane, Rotorua, Tauranga and Taupo Daily!

For a truly unique adventure the destination must be Whakaari (White Island) , one of the world's few accessible live volcanoes. Located 48 kilometres off the shores of Whakatane in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. 

This continuously active volcano, where sulphur-lipped fumaroles and roaring steam vents create a stark wonderland amidst the mud and ash soaked crater which almost bisects White Island. The acid lake in the island's depths offers an unforgettable insight into nature's primal creativity.

Full  commentary , exceptional service and  safety,  and great value ensure you get the most from this experience. On route to White Island we will fly over farm land, white sand beaches and off shore islands. Dolphins and large schools of fish are also often seen. Once over White Island you'll be awed by the alien landscape and power of this rumbling giant.

Grab a gift voucher for family or friends, or book your very own White Island Flight journey today, and see a view of the island that can only be seen from above!  

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Whakaari/White Island

White Island off the east coast of New Zealand

White Island, Bay of Plenty

By GrahamIX

Whakaari / White Island is one of New Zealand’s most active volcanos, situated 48km off the coast of Whakatane in the North Island.

In December of 2019 a volcanic eruption occurred at Whakaari / White Island .  

To ensure the safety of locals and visitors there are currently no boat tours to, or helicopter flights that land on the island.

While visitors cannot set foot on the Whakaari / White Island, scenic flights are still available.

If you wish to know more about Whakaari / White Island, visit the GeoNet website's frequently asked questions page. (opens in new window)

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IMAGES

  1. Les 10 meilleures excursions au départ de White Island en 2021

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  2. Visit White Island: Best of White Island Tourism

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  3. Tour guide from White Island Tours, White Island Volcano, Bay of Plenty

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COMMENTS

  1. Whakaari / White Island eruption: ID Tours fails to get health and

    New Zealand Bay of Plenty Whakaari / White Island eruption: ID Tours fails to get health and safety charge dismissed 5:32 pm on 14 March 2023 Sam Olley, Reporter @OlleySamantha [email protected]

  2. Did the survivors of White Island sue?

    White Island is an active volcano that attracts tourists who can visit the island by boat or helicopter. However, after the eruption in December 2019, all tours were suspended, and the island remains off-limits to foot traffic. 20. Can you go to White Island now? Currently, tours to White Island are not allowed due to safety concerns.

  3. Couple who survived White Island volcano tell court they weren't warned

    An American couple who were badly burned when Whakaari/White Island erupted in December 2019, killing 22 of the 47 people in its crater, told a New Zealand court that neither their guides nor...

  4. ID Tours seeks to have charges dismissed claiming it was 'too ...

    The Whakaari White Island eruption as seen from a tourist boat. The 2019 eruption claimed 22 lives and left 47 people injured. The charge levelled at ID Tours in the wake of the Whakaari eruption ...

  5. Whakaari/White Island eruption: Tourism company ID Tours applies to

    A still taken from a tourist boat when Whakaari White Island erupted in December 2019. Photo / Supplied. A tourist booking agent involved in helping cruise ship passengers visit Whakaari/White ...

  6. ID Tours fails to get health and safety charge dismissed over White Island

    Tuesday, 14 March 2023 ID Tours fails to get health and safety charge dismissed over White Island Canterbury National ID Tours is facing a four-month trial this year, alongside other tourism companies, Crown Research Institute GNS Science, and the island's owners, the Buttles. Photo: GNS

  7. Whakaari White Island eruption: negligence charges dropped against two

    The volcano, located on the island off New Zealand's north coast, erupted on 9 December 2019, killing 22 tourists and tour guides. Clouds of boiling steam and ash also left 25 people injured,...

  8. Volcano tourist disaster trial hears White Island owners put profits

    The three brothers, along with their company, Whakaari Management Limited, and ID Tours New Zealand and Tauranga Tourism Services have all had criminal charges brought against them by New Zealand ...

  9. White Island Tours

    60 Eco Tours from

  10. Whakaari White Island is owned by one NZ family. Today three brothers

    10. Kahu NZ Limited (pleaded guilty) 11. White Island Tours (pleaded guilty)

  11. The BEST White Island Tours 2024

    White Island Tours Our most recommended White Island Tours 1. From Tauranga: Skydive over Mount Maunganui Start your adventure with a flight capturing the breathtaking views of Mount Maunganui and its golden beaches expanding as far as the eye can see.

  12. Tickets & Tours

    There's no lava on White Island—since the vent is underwater—but from the sky the steam and sulfur are eerie enough for first time volcano visitors. The remains of an abandoned sulfur mine from a 1914 eruption can be seen and prior to 2019, walking tours were conducted on White Island where travelers could explore the active volcano by foot.

  13. White Island Tours, Bay of Plenty, NZ

    When we arrived at the office they told us it was cancelled because of the weather. They should have phoned us earlier, so we wouldn't have come all the way from Opotiki. SL. Reviews and travel ratings on White Island Tours in New Zealand (87.0% from 129 reviews) Join White Island Tours on a journey to discover the incredible active marine ...

  14. White Island & Whale Island 1-Hour Volcano Scenic Flight

    Full description Take to the skies to admire the marine volcano of White Island from above. Your friendly and professional crew will keep you thoroughly entertained throughout your experience. You'll receive a flight and safety briefing before heading out onto the tarmac to your aircraft.

  15. Premium White Island & Mt Tarawera Scenic Flights

    For a truly unique adventure the destination must be Whakaari (White Island), one of the world's few accessible live volcanoes. Located 48 kilometres off the shores of Whakatane in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. ... Your White Island Tour. Free Phone. 0800 944 834 or +64 7 308 7760 (international) Email. [email protected]. Postal ...

  16. Things to see and do in Whakaari/White Island

    Whakaari/White Island. Whakaari / White Island is one of New Zealand's most active volcanos, situated 48km off the coast of Whakatane in the North Island. In December of 2019 a volcanic eruption occurred at Whakaari / White Island. To ensure the safety of locals and visitors there are currently no boat tours to, or helicopter flights that ...

  17. ID Tours fails in bid to get Whakaari charge tossed

    Google ID Tours argued that its role was the facilitation of bookings, not tours, in a hearing at Whakatāne District Court. Judge Thomas said that to dismiss the charge, he must be satisfied...

  18. White Island Tours

    Information on this tour can be found via the separate TripAdvisor page: Moutohora Island Sanctuary (Whale Island) - Day Tour. In a country bursting with natural wonders, Whakaari/White Island is a standout. Located 49km off the coast of Whakatane, in the pristine waters of the Bay of Plenty, it is one of the world's most accessible volcanoes.

  19. White Island, Bay of Plenty Region

    $152.16

  20. Best time for White Island Tour in New Zealand 2023

    Located 50km offshore from Whakatane in New Zealand, visitors can visit White Island via boat or helicopter tours offered by various tour companies. While boat tours take up between 1.5 to two hours for the round trip, a helicopter ride takes about 20 to 25 minutes to reach the island, weather permitting.

  21. Justin Timberlake announces The Forget Tomorrow World Tour: Details

    View all 9,781 comments. The announcement comes shortly after Timberlake dropped his new single, "Selfish," off his forthcoming sixth studio album, "Everything I Thought It Was," out March 15. For ...