On December 9 - exactly six months ago - a tour group from the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship set off from the Port of Tauranga for a day excursion to White Island/Whakaari.
Thirty-eight passengers from all around the world were on the tour, led in part by White Island Tours guide Jake Milbank, who was celebrating his 19th birthday.
Milbank had no idea that just hours later, he would have suffered excruciating burns to 80 percent of his body that would leave him needing medical attention for the rest of his life.
Just as surprising is the reality that this would make him one of the lucky ones; 21 of the 47 people on Whakaari would lose their lives to the burns they suffered in the eruption.
But footage posted to Brazilian tourist Allessandro Kauffman's YouTube account shows no one even had an inkling of what was to come.
The video captures the group boarding the ferry to Whakaari, swapping chirpy 'good mornings' with White Island Tours staff. Upon their approach, passengers are told about the history of the volcano before being placed on smaller rafts, which transport them to the island's igneous rock-covered coastline.
They then break into smaller groups before ascending to the crater edge, where they take selfies and are warned of the dangers of the bubbling water and steam.
But still there's no sign of what's to come until, on their descent, Kauffman's tour guide provides the first warning that something's awry.
"I'm a little bit worried by why it's going green," he can be heard saying, as moss-coloured water froths and simmers violently beneath them.
But the group continues walking back down the volcano, stopping again for another explanation before jumping aboard the boat that'll take them back to Tauranga. Kauffman and her husband Aline smile into the camera as they talk about their experience - but then, after a cut, panic ensues.
Plumes of thick grey smoke fill the sky, with tour group members heard yelling at the ferry driver to get away fast and at their fellow passengers to take cover.
"That's terrifying... Are we gonna be okay?" one woman can be heard saying.
"I don't know," a man responds.
At this point, the entire island has been engulfed by steam and smoke, rendering the volcano invisible. Experts would later identify the event as a phreatic eruption - a steam and gas-driven explosion that launched rock and ash high into the air.
Back on the mainland, authorities were already formulating the best path forward. This culminated in a ban on visiting the island - something the tour group didn't know when their boat turned back to rescue others on the island.
Recounting the otherworldly scene in an interview with The Project just days later, Kauffman said she could hear "screaming and crying" and "everyone was covered in [ash]... everything was grey".
"Some people were very, very seriously injured... Everyone in the boat tried to help them," she said. "Very quickly the crew started to do first aid... everything they could for the people asking for help."
Her husband said people on the tour boat removed their jackets and tops to help keep the burned victims warm - and when they didn't have any more clothes to give, "we just tried to hug everyone that we could touch [to help maintain heat]".
Their bravery saved lives. But sadly, it wasn't enough to save the 21 people who lost their lives in one of the deadliest natural disasters in New Zealand's history.
An event that left the survivors - as well as the community - scarred for life.