White Island NZ (aka Whakaari) is an active stratovolcano in Bay of Plenty Region, located approx 48 km (30 mi) to the west of North Island (New Zealand). The island is NZ's most active cone volcano. The closest mainland NZ towns are Tauranga (90 km / 55 mi) and Whakatane. The island was 'discovered' by James Cook (1728-1779) and is continuously smoking since 1769.
Whakaari (White Island) is roughly circular in shape, with diameter around 2 km (1,2 mi) and highest elevation 1053 ft (321 m) above sea level. However this is only the peak of a huge submarine mountain, rising up to 5249 ft (1600 m) above the seabed. In early-20th century was attempted sulfur mining on the island, but it was abandoned in 1914 when a mudflow killed all the 10 workers there. Current activities on the island are scientific research and guided tours.
Whakaari is privately owned island (by White Island Tours Ltd) and declared in 1953 "scenic reserve". By the NZ Legislation (Reserves Act 1977), independent tourists can't land on Whakaari without permission, but landings are allowed to customers of authorised tour operators (including cruise shipping companies). Whakaari is classified as IBA (Important Bird Area) for its breeding colony of ~3000 pairs of Australian gannets (large seabird species).
On December 9, 2019, at 2:11 pm (NZDT) the Whakaari volcano exploded killing 14 tourists - including 8 missing (presumed dead) and 5 dead (confirmed). Among the fatalities was a cruise passenger from the RCI-Royal Caribbean-owned liner Ovation of the Seas, being on a 12-day Australia to New Zealand cruise.
|Date / Time||Port|
|04 Dec 18:45||Departing from Sydney NSW|
|07 Dec 08:00 - 18:00||Bay of Islands, Russell NZ|
|08 Dec 07:00 - 20:00||Auckland NZ|
|09 Dec 07:30 - 18:00||Tauranga, Rotorua NZ|
|11 Dec 07:00 - 14:00||Wellington NZ|
|12 Dec 08:00 - 17:00||Dunedin, Port Chalmers NZ|
|13 Dec 17:00 - 18:00||Fiordland National Park NZ|
|16 Dec 06:30||Arriving in Sydney NSW|
Until the 2019 accident, RCI offered a shore excursion (boat tour roundtrip from Tauranga) themed “White Island Volcano Experience Cruise and Guided Exploration”, with booking code TR93 and priced at USD 324 pp. The guided tour of the active volcano Whakaari used to take cruise passengers directly to the crater. Gas masks were provided allowing guests to get near the steam vents and enjoy the unique scenery of bubbling mud pits, volcanic streams and the turquoise-colored acid lake.
Victims are planning to sue RCI-Royal Caribbean over 2019 volcano eruption on White Island (Whakaari, New Zealand) which killed 21 people and left...April 27, 2020
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RCCL-Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd announced it no longer offers the optional shore excursions to White Island New Zealand after the December 9th...December 17, 2019
Passengers from Ovation of the Seas say they are in a "state of shock" after the eruption on New Zealand's White Island claimed the lives of fellow...December 10, 2019
(UPDATED) Following the New Zealand’s White Island volcano eruption (at 2:11 pm NZDT on December 9), the NZ police initiated a massive...December 9, 2019
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