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Gina, Joe and Justin's Backpacking Experience

White Island

NEW ZEALAND | Wednesday, 3 December 2008 | Views [545]

Our travels on the Stray bus are now officially over...bummer :(, Although i will say that we did go out with a pretty big bang and “the American's (and a Canadian)” will most defiantly go down in the story books at the Stray company.  Unfortunately the story is most defiantly rated R and therefore will not make the blog; e-mail me if you want the unabridged version :).


At this point i would like to recant and disavowal my previous statement of being immune to adrenaline, we were just looking for it in the wrong spots.  It turns out that an adrenaline fix is no further away than a car rental dealership in a nation's largest city with three Americans who have never driven a right-hand drive car on the left-hand side of the road.  Yes we survived...no it did not go smoothly. 


Anyway, previously in our trip we caught wind of a dive site on the far eastern side of the country called “White Island.”  What makes white island special is the fact that it is the country's only ACTIVE volcano.  Now at this point we have looked at, hiked, and flew over volcanoes so we would be doing ourselves a grave injustice if we didn't capitalize on our opportunity to DIVE one! 


As you can see by some of the pictures, the volcano is amazing too look at.  Its outlined by a huge crater in the middle which is billowing out steam from the underlying lava.  You can also see the remains of a mining town that used to be there until the volcano erupted and killed everyone.  By the way, they were mining sulfur (read...the island smells like rotten eggs). 


What makes this place special is the volcanic activity underneath the sea warms the waters in the area up a few degrees more than the surrounding ocean, which is still ridiculously freezing cold, and allows life to grow that wouldn't normally survive in the colder water.  So without boring you with the diving mumbo jumbo, we saw lots of really cool things like: nudibranches, stingrays, (sub-)tropical fish, moray eels, and starfish.  The dive was not quite as “amazing” as we had expected as most of the volcanic remnants are covered by sand and kelp, but it was still a pretty cool experience to say we've done!  I think the best part of the whole trip was when we came up for our surface interval between dives; the captain of the boat produced FRESHLY BAKED scones. Seriously...i've been on quite a few dive boats now and i can defintly say i have NEVER had fresh bake goods waiting for me when i popped out of the water...my hat is off to them!


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