Update 2020-12-04: On 9 December 2019 White Island erupted.
Forty-seven people were visiting the island at the time, mostly tourists, and the eruption led to twenty-two deaths either on the island or after due to injuries sustained.
This week ten organisations, including Mark Law (KAHU NZ) who I flew with, were charged in relation to operations at White Island. He was not on the island when the eruption happened and immediately flew out there to rescue survivors.
In the 2016 post (below) I didn't mention the safety briefing which outlined the very evident risk in this trip. I also didn't mention safety provisions, including a refuge bunker, I was shown on the island. I went to the island fully aware of the dangers it presented and that if there was any significant volcanic activity any level of safety equipment would be of little benefit.
I do see the need for an investigation, people did die, to find and fix any deficiencies in the system but don't think these criminal prosecutions are the way to do this.
If you agree consider supporting this Change.org | Stop The Prosecution petition
There is also a Give A Little to support Mark Law
At one stage I had considered jetting off to a tropical island this week. It was a turbine engine, albeit in a helicopter, and geothermal, rather than tropical, heat but White Island was an amazing place to visit.
I have seen it on several travel shows and recently heard a great history of the sulphur miners, and their unfortunate demise, on Graeme Hill’s Radio Live show Outsiders with Gerard Hindmarsh - The White Island Tragedy (audio link)
I had rung to see if any flights were happening, but there were no other bookings and a minimum of two. The curse of travelling solo...
Maybe I shouldn't have stopped on top of the hill, Kihi Point overlooking Ohope, to take this photo but I did and it proved to be quite expensive. Looking at a perfect day I decided what the hell... a phone call… next stop the local airport.
Rather indulgent, just Mark (the pilot) & I so make that VERY indulgent, but worth every cent. They say you should buy experiences, not things, and it was an unforgettable one.
Totally recommend http://www.whiteislandvolcano.co.nz
Take off, look at the day
Heading towards Moutohora (Whale) Island
Visiting ‘hell’ on a heavenly day! (photo of me and our Airbus chariot by Mark)
The boat trippers give a good idea of scale, we walked about 1km from the landing spot to the crater lake.
Swimming definitely not recommended…
The sulphur they came to harvest is still being ejected.
And then it was time to prep for take-off. Mark was great, giving good overview of the history, geology, ecology and for answering my stupid helicopter questions!
Over Whale Island again.
Mark mentioned mountain biking… no… I didn’t… wouldn’t… but Kelly McGarry did.