The teenage tour guide who suffered burns to 80 per cent of his body in December's White Island/Whakaari eruption says he will "always be grateful" to those who saved his and other victims' lives.
The Bay of Plenty volcano erupted beneath Jake Milbank and members of his party on December 9, his 19th birthday.
The eruption killed 21 people – including fellow tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman and teenage Australian tourist Winona Langford, whose bodies were not found.
After several months in Auckland's Middlemore Hospital, including 25 trips to the operating room, Milbank returned to his home and family in Whakatāne at the start of last month.
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In an interview with Newshub he recounted the moment on Whakaari that changed his life.
"You know what you've gotta do to survive and that's all I was really thinking about doing at the time."
After the eruption he was loaded onto a tour boat but it took an hour and a half until he made it to paramedics on land.
"[I was] just trying to stay awake, and constantly reminding myself and having others around me reminding me that we were nearly back and it was all gonna be all good," he told Newshub.
He declined to look at the experience negatively, and said although a challenge it would "build character".
"There's nothing I can do about it except try my hardest to get back to where I was before the eruption, there's no point at looking at it negatively," he told Newshub.
He would always be grateful to those who cared for him and the other victims.
"It's all of the people who were there, helping, they were all doing their best to help us, we'll all be grateful forever for that [because] without them there's a good chance that some of us wouldn't actually be here," he told Newshub.
After four months in hospital, he is continuing to regain movement.
"Every day you notice 'oh I can take my sock off a little bit further' or something like that, it is pretty cool to see," he told Newshub.
Despite all he'd been through, he'd still like to return to Whakaari.
"It does send shivers down the spine a little bit, gives you the goosebumps, I wouldn't get too close, but yeah I definitely would like to go and have another look," he told Newshub.
Milbank previously credited his "amazing team of doctors, nurses, physios and occupational therapists" for his miraculous recovery.
"But most of all I owe it to my family, who have been with me every step of the way, assisting me with my cares and my every need. I also have to thank my friends, for always visiting me and keeping me sane during this long, hard time."
He also had a message for his wider supporters, many of whom donated to a Givealittle page that raised over $150,000.
"To everyone In New Zealand and all around the world who have been showing me their ongoing love and support, I cannot thank you enough," Milbank wrote.
"You have all given me the strength and encouragement I needed, to keep working hard, and striving for the best possible outcome.
"I still have a very long road ahead in terms of my rehabilitation and recovery, but with the help of my family and friends as well as worldwide support I know I will get there one day.