Thursday, October 15, 2009

Christchurch and White Island Blog

Rob Gardiner
Christchurch and White Island

My two places to research were Christchurch and White Island. Christchurch presented some difficulty when trying to find out more about its geology and biology because it is a small to medium-sized, highly developed, urban center. However, due its location on the South Island, Christchurch is an ideal launching pad for many excursions to discover the fascinating geology and coastal biology of New Zealand. Christchurch's website,, offers links to an overwhelming amount tours, hikes, cycling excursions, and nature walks that all leave from the centrally located "Garden City" and take you into the heart of the South Island.
For example, from Christchurch you could take a coach bus to Tasman Valley, followed by a guided half hour tour through a moraine which brings you to Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake. At the lake, you board a small boat that brings you around to observe the awesome power of glaciers and how they are ever changing the landscape.

White Island, as opposed to Christchurch, is in itself a terrific place to experience first hand the explosive creation of New Zealand. Located 48 kilometers off the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand's North Island, White Island is New Zealand's only active marine volcano and readily accessible to tourists. A trip to White Island offers amazing exposure to both the geology and the biology of New Zealand. On a boat trip out to the island, you will encounter diverse bird life as well as inquisitive dolphins alongside the boat. The website dedicated to White Island offers webcam screenshots of the volcano updated daily. The volocano is dated to be somewhere between 100,000 to 200,000 years old but in some areas it is only 16,000 years young.
A walking tour of White Island is said to be an exhilarating experience for all of your senses. At first, you will notice a barren moonscape, void of vegetation. The only color is the bright yellow sulfur deposits. Then you will hear the hissing of steam all around you, evidence that the volcano is by no means dormant. You will also be able to detect the strong odor of sulfur as it emits through the vents below your feet.

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