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Old New Zealand

Exploring ancient sites of natural beauty off the coast of North Island

Above  The steamy, acidic pool at the volcano's inner core. Photos: Tommy Walker

One of New Zealand's most active volcanoes -- its most recent eruption took place in April 2016 -- White Island, or Whakaari as it is locally known, is situated 49km off the coast of Whakatane in New Zealand's North Island.

Approaching Whakaari on a tour boat, you automatically begin to feel its isolation. Despite the presence of other tourists on board, I generally sensed that the island isn't visited that much. If you've ever seen adventure movies of explorers discovering new lands, well, White Island presents you with that type of vibe.

Looking up in awe, the small patches of green are overshadowed by the titanic fields of daggered rocks and the sheer size of the outer edges. The vessel slows down in the mildly turbulent waves. Still, disembarking wasn't that straightforward. We had to take inflatable boats to reach the shore because the pier, made of solid stone, sticks out only a couple of metres. At this point, the island towers to the left, with a mix of pink rock and rugged dents. Then, setting foot on the island, the first impression was of extraterrestrial lands.

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