Police say the ongoing recovery effort to locate and retrieve the last two bodies on White Island is proving "tough going for everybody".

The body recovery team has returned to the mainland after spending 75 minutes on Whakaari/White Island this morning without any success.

The team returned to the island this morning in an attempt to retrieve the bodies of the volcano's last two victims after six bodies were recovered on Friday.

The team arrived ashore just after 8.30am today and had enough oxygen for 75 minutes.


As with the first recovery operation, today's plan was contingent on a range of risk factors which had been, and would continually be, assessed, Deputy Commissioner John Tims said today.

Two teams of four Search and Rescue and Disaster Victim Identification staff will be taken to the island by helicopter.

The crew returned to the island this morning to attempt to retrieve the last two bodies.
The crew returned to the island this morning to attempt to retrieve the last two bodies.

Staff will be deployed to an area of the island where the best information suggests a body might be, Tims said.

"They will be wearing the same protective clothing as the eight New Zealand Defence Force personnel who were on the island on Friday, however their breathing apparatus will be different, meaning they will only be able to stay on the island for up to 75 minutes.

"The police Eagle helicopter will be above the island in an operational support capacity, as will the helicopters that dropped off the ground teams.

"A GNS scientist will remain on board Eagle to monitor the environment in real-time.

"We remain committed to finishing the task at hand and returning the two remaining bodies to their loved ones."

Yesterday, a Police National Dive Squad of nine members searched the waters around White Island for a body seen in the water following Monday's volcanic eruption.


However, "unique and challenging" weather conditions hindered the water search and no additional bodies to the six recovered on Friday was made.

Tims said conditions in the water around White Island yesterday were "not optimal", with between zero and two metres visibility.

"The water around the island is contaminated, requiring the divers to take extra precautions to ensure their safety, including using specialist protective equipment," Tims said.

"Divers have reported seeing a number of dead fish and eels washed ashore and floating in the water.

"Each time they surface, the divers are decontaminated using fresh water."

Yesterday's water search started at 7am, and was bolstered by the navy dive squad in the afternoon, but did not extend to a further land search of the island itself.

Planning was however undertaken to conduct further land-based searches of the island for the two remaining bodies.

Yesterday afternoon, police officially released the name of the first victim from last week's disaster as 21-year-old Melbourne woman Krystal Browitt.

Up to that point all names released have come from families, not the police.

Vet nursing student Krystal Browitt turned 21 on November 29, less than a week before her family boarded the Ovation of the Seas cruise - aboard which she was celebrating her birthday.

GNS Science senior volcanologist Graham Leonard said as of 11am Saturday, there was a 35 to 50 per cent chance of another eruption in the next 24 hours.

"Over Friday night into Saturday there was a rapid large drop in tremor [activity] at the volcano," Leonard said.

"But, no matter what, the system remains highly volatile and all of our monitoring parameters point to shallow magma in the system."

As of 4pm yesterday, 17 injured patients, 11 of them critically, in the White Island eruption were spread across Middlemore, Waikato, Hutt Valley and Christchurch hospitals.

1 NEWS reported yesterday that patients in Middlemore Hospital will remain there for months.

A burns surgeon from Australia arrived at Middlemore on Friday night, and went straight into theatre yesterday morning.

Middlemore's Dr Peter Watson praised the help and support from across New Zealand and around the world.

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"There are incredible responses, amazing people and I just really want to say thank you to all those people," Watson told 1 NEWS.

"It's been a really long week. We're making sure to get people home and rested because the work won't stop today, tomorrow or this week.

"It's really important that everybody looks after themselves."

Packed in cardboard boxes and lined with foam and dry ice 15 donors-worth of skin is en route to New Zealand from Ohio - nearly 14,000km away.

The shipment is part of the 120sq m of skin, 60 donors' worth, needed to help treat White Island eruption victims' terrible burn injuries.

Police also announced yesterday that the bodies recovered off White Island have been taken to Auckland for the post mortem and disaster victim identification process.

Police DVI experts, forensic pathologists, ESR, odontologists and the Coroner's office, will now undertake the process of identifying victims and releasing bodies to families.

"This is a long and complex process and we are working as quickly as possible to return loved ones to their families," Tims said.