Island tour

Whakaari/White Island tour guide Kelsey Waghorn released from hospital

She is now recovering at home after spending 65 days in hospital.


She is now recovering at home after spending 65 days in hospital.

A tour guide who was in Whakaari/White Island when the volcano erupted is now recovering at home.

Kelsey Waghorn suffered full-thickness burns to 45% of her body after the December 9 eruption.

She is sharing her recovery online and said on Tuesday evening that she is now recovering at home after spending 65 days in hospital.

Waghorn also shared a post about people who failed to self-isolate and said that as someone who had to self-isolate due to their immunodeficiency, it “scares me”.

“Please don’t be selfish guys.

“Think of others.”

After the eruption, Waghorn spent 49 days in Hutt Hospital, 10 of them in intensive care and five of them in an induced coma.


On the afternoon of Monday, December 9, 2019, Whakaari White Island erupted while tours were in progress, killing 22 people and injuring 25.

“During those 10 days, no one could tell my family if I was going to make it or not. Luckily my battered little ship made it and I went to the burns/plastics department where I spent another 39 days .”

She was then transferred to Waikato and spent 16 days hospitalized in Waikato Hospital.

That time would have been much shorter, but she fell on her very first weekend off, which brought her back to Whakatāne A&E.

“It’s not exactly how I planned to go back to see and thank the team there.

“Needless to say my doctor back in Waikato was more than apprehensive about letting me spend the following weekend at home. But we convinced her that I had learned my lesson and I got the next two weekends at home.”

In total, she spent 65 days in hospital with 14 trips to the operating theater totaling around 70 hours, including recovery.

She was discharged from hospital on February 13, with the expectation that she would have no unscheduled visits from doctors until her two-week check-up in Waikato.

“True to form, my body had other ideas.

“Before my first dressing change at home on the Monday following discharge, I passed out in the shower. Twice.

“In doing so, I scraped my shin and traumatized my family for life (again).

“Cue the ambulance, the IV line and a whole bunch of blood pressure checks.

She said other than a collapsed jugular vein and oozing fingers, she hadn’t had any other surprises.

“Words cannot describe how good it is to be home.

“My own bed…the fresh air, the view from the living room, and of course, our two dogs.

“My days are still full of physiotherapy, hand therapy, occupational therapists and visits from district nurses, but I’m home.”

After thanking everyone for their continued support, love, advice and donations, she asked people to be careful and wash their hands.