White Island's long history of unrest hasn't stopped tourism

Whakaari / White Island is New Zealand's most active volcano with a long history of unrest. 

But that hasn't hampered tourism, even though this isn't the first fatal eruption. 

It's barren, unpredictable, and unforgiving but tours have been running to Whakaari / White Island for the past three decades with 10,000 people visiting each year. 

Vessels dock on the eastern side and tourists then walk from the beach to the centre of the active volcano and stand on the crater's edge. 

It's at the edge where a webcam captured people standing just an hour before the eruption on Monday.

White Island's peak is just a small part of its massive volcanic structure with 70 percent below the water's surface. 

It's been continuously bubbling for the past 150,000 years, but it's not known exactly how many times it's erupted. 

What is known is yesterday's tragedy wasn't the first. A sulphur mining venture which started in 1885 came to a disastrous end in 1914. 

An eruption blew a hole in the side of the crater which released a cascade of boiling mud and rocks. Twelve men were killed and the miners' village was destroyed.

The island was later bought by Auckland's Buttle family in 1936 and access has been controlled by permits since 1995. 

The Buttles say like most Kiwis they're devastated so many lives were lost