Thursday, April 10, 2014

The A to Z Challenge: I is for Island

The Bay of Plenty near Opotiki—White Island just visible on the horizon.

The wide sweep of the Bay of Plenty stretched to the edge of Amy’s sight, and straight in front of her ocean met sky all along the horizon, broken only by White Island with its constant puff of smoke. —Chapter 1, Sentence of Marriage.

If you're in New Zealand, you're on an island. Even what we call the mainland is just a larger island.

We're also well-endowed with small islands, of which the most familiar to my characters is White Island/Whakaari. Captain Cook gave it one of his usual matter-of-fact names; its full Maori name, Te Puia o Whakaari, means "that which can be made visible"—perhaps because the island is sometimes hidden by its own plumes of steam and smoke. It's New Zealand's most active volcano, but since it's fifty kilometres off the coast we get nothing more dramatic than very occasional light dustings of ash.

If you've seen the movie The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, you've seen White Island in a different role: portraying the Dragon Island.

White Island was used as a sulphur mine till 1914, when a massive lahar killed the workers and destroyed the buildings. Now it's a tourist attraction, offering the chance to visit an extremely active volcano.

White Island, GNS Science New Zealand.


  1. Hi from the A to Z challenge! I just learned a new word from your blog: lahar. We don't have many in the Midwest of the U.S. Gorgeous, gorgeous photos.

    1. I noticed that the spell-checker flagged lahar! It's a word that does come up here.

      That first view used to be very familiar to me when I still lived in the Bay of Plenty. I'd forgotten how lovely it is until I visited again a few years ago (I took the picture on that visit).

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Jolie. It's a beautiful island, in its own stark way.

  3. I would love to visit your island Country! Beautiful :)