Sixteen deaths have been confirmed while two bodies are still missing, believed to be in the water off the island and about 20 people remain in intensive care with severe burns.
Of the 47 visitors to the volcanic island, 24 were from Australia, nine from the US, five from New Zealand, four from Germany, two from China, two from the UK, and one from Malaysia.
Authorities launched the “high-speed” operation on Friday morning – succeeding in finding six of the remaining eight bodies. The hunt for the final two will continue on Saturday, police said.
The recovery team, made up of six bomb disposal specialists and a commanding officer, were kitted out with protective clothing – each wearing a yellow full-body “hazmat suit” and gas masks.
Poisonous gases are still billowing from the volcano and the island – also known by its Maori name of Whakaari – is blanketed in acidic ash.
Sixteen people have so far been confirmed dead and many more injured after the volcano exploded on Monday, sending scalding steam, ash and rock into the air.
The deadly eruption of the New Zealand volcano has drawn a spotlight on how active volcanoes draw crowds of tourism each year.