Hawke's Bay Rescue Helicopter crew members who helped to ferry between hospitals those injured on Whakaari/White Island say they're thankful they don't have to do a job like that every day.
Five people are dead, a further eight are missing, feared dead, and dozens are injured after the volcano erupted suddenly on Monday afternoon.
Ian Wilmot, general manager of the Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter, said the aircraft was called to Whakatāne after the eruption at 2.11pm.
He said one pilot, one crewman and two intensive-care paramedics were involved in the mission.
The helicopter's role meant the crew wasn't required on the island, focusing instead on patient transfers for those who needed it.
It transferred one patient to Waikato Hospital in Hamilton, and another to Auckland City Hospital, journeys that meant the crew clocked off at 2am.
They spent the night in Hamilton.
Wilmot said he was aware of eight rescue helicopters, including Hawke's Bay's, being called to Whakatāne, two from Auckland and six from the regions.
"It's something that doesn't happen every day, thank goodness."
The team returned to Hawke's Bay on Tuesday, leaving Hamilton around 1pm.
It has been confirmed that 47 people were on the island at the time of the eruption.
Thirty-one remained in hospital on Tuesday afternoon.
Those feared dead are from NZ, Australia, Britain, the United States, China, Germany and Malaysia.
Local leaders have also sent their condolences to those affected.
"On behalf of the Hastings District, I wish to pass on my heartfelt condolences to the victims and families affected by this terrible tragedy," Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said.
"We can't fathom the amount of hurt and devastation the Bay of Plenty region must be feeling," she said.
"Our love and support goes to our close neighbours in their time of need."
Napier mayor Kirsten Wise said, "My heart goes out to the whānau and friends of those who have lost their lives in this devastating natural disaster.
"Our thoughts are with the rescue workers and wider community of Whakatāne as they support those in need."
QUAKE RATTLES ON-EDGE REGION
The already on-edge East Coast was on Tuesday rattled by a 5.3-magnitude earthquake, 20km south of Gisborne, 29km deep.
GeoNet confirmed it was in no way related to the volcanic activity on Whakaari/White Island.
Wairoa mayor Craig Little said he was in a Civil Defence meeting at the time, joking they had the right people in the room if anything went wrong.
"It was a beauty, quite severe and long," Little said.
"Wairoa certainly felt it."
People in Napier and Hastings told the Geonet website they felt moderate shaking, while people closer to the epicentre reported feeling moderate to severe shaking.
GeoNet confirmed no tsunami had been created by the quake.