Phillip Wong // The Articles

White Island

4th December 2017

Walking towards the inner crater.

Amazingly, White Island is privately owned. Well, perhaps not amazingly. After its initial sale into private hands, several attempts to mine the island’s sulphur all turned sour (see what I did there) and eventually brought an end to any dreams of commercial success. Only the decayed remnants of those mining operations remain.

I don’t know how many active volcanic islands there are that you can visit, but this is one of them. It’s very accessible at a leisurely 1.5 hour boat ride from Whakatane and the tour itself is a gentle walk around the crater.

Hot tip: The tours to White Island are run by White Island Tours who also run the adjoining motel. You may as well stay there too so you can roll out of bed in the morning and walk the few steps to the tour office. You’ll also get a discount for staying and touring with them.

Generational 2

17th November 2017

On board the Statue Cruises ferry en route to Liberty Island.

When I was in Europe several years ago, selfies were at the start of their march towards being part and parcel of travelling. Fast forward to 2017 and selfies are a reason to travel. While I found it amusing those few years ago to see a selfie stick used by an atypical demographic (good ideas are just good ideas though, right?) in 2017 it’s now essential for every age group to show proof of life to the world.

This was the subject of an interesting discussion I had with a tour operator in Arizona. He was commenting that he was getting more and more Americans on the tours that he ran to the national parks and when I quizzed him on the reasons why, he was pretty confident: social media. The desire to humblebrag demands interesting backdrops to frame the face, leading to an increasing number of visitors in search of insta-fame. Indeed, from my observations this was true. People travelling the real world to reinforce their virtual selves is a thing.