We visited White Island recently during all the new volcanic activity that is going on. My husband, who is confined to a wheelchair, had organised for both of us to do the trip, along with our six year old son. I have a fear of heights and although I am ok in planes I was pretty nervous and not sure that I wanted to go. Our six year old was a little worried about the volcano erupting while we were there, so that started the trip with two stomachs that were full of butterflies. The people at Frontier Helicopters went out of their way to be helpful, lifting my husband into the helicopter and doing their best to calm down any out of control nerves. By the time the flight took off I was feeling much better, but myson who was happy with the flying was still nervous about walking up to the crater. On approaching the Island, our pilot/guide Marcus, flew around for some great ariel views as my husband wouldn't be able to depart the helicopter once on the island.
My son and I followed the guide up to the crater, with the landscape making it feel like we were on another planet entirely. At one point passing a small pond of water that was bubbling well over boiling point. From this vantage point I looked off to my left to see mud shooting out of the earth, about a metre or two into the air. But this was not the area that all the current excitement is about. Soon after, we walked up a short rise and looked down into the crater. I'm not sure what words to use to describe it. Wow and awesome just don't do it enough justice. It was breathtaking with mud sometimes shooting up to 20 metres into the air. My son, by this time over his fear and feeling very excited could see the shape of a dinosaur in one of the mud geysers.
This is probably not a good place to take children who can't/won't follow instructions as it is not a tame, safe environment. You should also wear shoes that are not going to disintegrate, as I have heard from someone else that by the time they had walked around the Island the sole of their shoes had halved in thicknes.
It costs quite a bit more than going on the boat, but the journey time is much shorter and until we were heading back from the crater we had no contact or visual sightings of any other people. It was worth every dollar. And now thanks to our wonderful pilot, I don't have such a fear of flying in a helicopter.
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