An American couple who survived the Whakaari/White Island tragedy have revealed their recovery from burns suffered in the eruption will take up to two years.

Ivy Kohn Reed and her husband Rick Reed were badly burned when they were among tourists and tour guides on the Bay of Plenty volcanic island erupted on December 9.

Twenty-one people died in the tragedy.

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The pair spent two months being cared for in the National Burns Centre at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital, before finally being well enough to return to America in early February.

In a message from the pair posted to an online fundraiser, the couple have written of their thanks to those who have helped them, and also revealed more about the long-term challenges they both face.

They both described the recovery time as "a marathon and not a sprint".

"Now that we are back, we are beginning the long road to recovery. This process can take 1-2 years for total healing," the Reeds wrote.

They were currently receiving outpatient care from a burns centre in America.

Rick Reed and Ivy Kohn Reed have thanked all the people who have helped them after they almost lost their lives in the December 9 volcanic eruption. Photo / Supplied
Rick Reed and Ivy Kohn Reed have thanked all the people who have helped them after they almost lost their lives in the December 9 volcanic eruption. Photo / Supplied

"Additionally, we have lots of tools and exercises to complete at home, as most of the work for rehab is done at home," they said.

"For healing of the burns we must wear compression garments most of the day/night. These are custom made for each of us and are replaced every three months.

"Neither of us is able to work and it is expected to be several more months before returning to work is a possibility. Right now, rehabilitation is our fulltime job."

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In the aftermath of the eruption, loved ones of the Reeds launched Gofundme appeal to help raise money for the badly injured pair.

More than $40,000 has been donated to them.

The Reeds confided they were relieved to be home and were "surrounded by our family and friends, who have been phenomenal in assisting us with the care we've needed".

An aerial photograph of Whakaari / White Island taken several hours after the deadly eruption. Bay of Plenty Times photograph / George Novak
An aerial photograph of Whakaari / White Island taken several hours after the deadly eruption. Bay of Plenty Times photograph / George Novak

"Upon our return home, we couldn't lift anything; our suitcase coming home, groceries, taking out the trash, etc, couldn't drive, we couldn't even open a water or soda bottle because of our limited hand function.

"Our friends and family did this for us, without asking, and also did anything we asked them to help us with. It's not been easy to ask for help, we always considered ourselves strong independent people, but our injuries limited us and required us to ask. We are so grateful for our friends and family, and for the love and support they have shown us during this difficult time."

Rick Reed suffered burns to 30 per cent of his body in the eruption. Ivy Kohn Reed suffered burns to her right leg, hands and face.

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They added there were grateful for the "outpouring of support" to the fundraiser, including from both people they knew and "strangers".

"The generosity and kindness shown to us has been overwhelming, such kindness by all of you is so heartwarming. We are on the road to recovery and the resources of this campaign will allow us to focus completely on our recovery. "

Kelsey Waghorn has shared a video of herself walking as she recovers from the Whakaare / White Island eruption. Video / @kezzelsify

After their release from hospital, Ivy Kohn Reed posted a photo of the pair that had been taken on White Island shortly before the eruption.

In it, the Americans are pictured smiling, with Rick Reed's arm around his wife, while steam rises from the White Island crater behind them.

"This is the last picture taken of us before our lives changed forever," she wrote.

"Approximately 15 minutes after this was taken, the White Island volcano erupted, burying us in hot volcanic ash and toxic gases. We survived, were rescued and spent almost 8 weeks in a New Zealand Hospital receiving critical care treatment.

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"Our dream vacation turned into a nightmare that we are still trying to comprehend."