Story: Historic volcanic activity

White Island (1st of 3)

White Island

Until 20 people were killed by an eruption in 2019, some 10,000 people visited Whakaari / White Island each year, carried from the mainland by boat or helicopter. It was one of the few places in the world where you could walk into the crater of an active volcano. Swirling ash and noxious gases could make the experience unpleasant, however, and gas masks were essential.

This photograph was taken in 1977 on an exceptionally clear day, when the wind was blowing away from the photographer. The active vent is discharging pale brown ash, while fumaroles (gas vents) are ejecting white steam and acid gases. The atmosphere is highly corrosive, and can quickly ruin clothing.

Using this item

Private collection
Photograph by Simon Nathan

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Eileen McSaveney, Carol Stewart and Graham Leonard, 'Historic volcanic activity - Eruptions in early history', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/6832/white-island (accessed 26 January 2020)

Story by Eileen McSaveney, Carol Stewart and Graham Leonard, published 12 Jun 2006