Picturesque landscapes with vast mountain ranges, steaming volcanoes and a huge coastline make New Zealand the perfect natural playground. Tristan Rutherford reveals five of the best adventure activities to keep even the most demanding explorers entertained.
Bobbing in the North Island’s Bay of Plenty, White Island is New Zealand’s only active marine volcano that spouts white steam high into the sky. “New Zealand cruising is simply remarkable,” says Rebecca Pattinson, senior broker at Ocean Independence. “The natural beauty of the landscape and surrounding waters are a nature lover’s paradise. And no trip to New Zealand would be complete without visiting the Bay of Plenty.”
It was Captain Cook who coined the name White Island in 1769, taking inspiration from the gracious plume of white steam that hovers over the isle. Since then, dozens of mini-eruptions have morphed the island’s dramatic topography into the rugged landscape that it boasts today.
A natural scenic reserve since 1953, White Island’s access remains strictly regulated, which makes immersing yourself in this authentic, active volcano a once in a lifetime experience.
Begin your exploration by dropping anchor at nearby Tauranga, which also provides access to the gorges and waterfalls of the subtropical Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park. From here, White Island’s steaming crater complex – the only part of the volcano above sea level – is best accessed via helicopter. Once you’re on the island itself, this vivid experience gets otherworldly. Clamber past tumbling lava domes, a steaming crater lake, bubbling mud pits and fumaroles steaming up from the centre of the earth.
White Island’s lunar landscape isn’t just confined to dry land. Abundant marine life – from giant packhorse crayfish and stingrays, to nudibranchs and sea urchins – congregates around the underwater volcanic vents.