Tauranga barristers chambers of Rita and Bill Nabney were enjoying a White Island Christmas party two days before Monday’s eruption.
Barrister Rita Nabney said the staff and two tour guides were the only people on the island at the time of an 8am tour on Saturday, and spurting mud reached about 15 metres high.
At the time, the sights left them in awe after a cloud covering the crater lake blew over to reveal the active volcano.
Watching the mud spurting from the edge of the crater, wearing gas masks and hard-hats, the thought of an eruption, or any other danger, never crossed her mind.
On Monday, White Island erupted with 47 people on the island at the time. 38 of them were from the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas.
Thirty-four people were injured and five bodies were taken off the island by rescuers