Eight soldiers hospitalised after taking a mystery drug - believed to be the illicit "N-Bomb" - may face fines, jail time or being kicked out of the army.

Police said they were called to a group of eight men suffering effects from an "unknown substance" at 3.40am on Sunday.

The incident has sparked a Defence Force investigation, which has a strict "no-tolerance" drug policy, and there is a possibility charges will be laid by the police.

Authorities would not reveal what the substance was, but a source said it was thought to be "N-Bomb" - an illegal synthetic drug which left a Christchurch man in a critical condition earlier this month.

Advertisement

Police said the men were originally taken into custody before being transported to Palmerston North Hospital for treatment. All eight have been treated and discharged.

It is understood the men were stationed at Linton Military Camp - the largest New Zealand army base, located just south of Palmerston North.

A New Zealand Defence Force spokeswoman told NZME News Service today the organisation has a "strict no-tolerance policy" around the misuse of drugs.

"NZDF holds its personnel to a high standard of behaviour. Any drug-related incident is fully investigated and appropriate action taken," she said.

Several soldiers were taken into custody by police on Sunday and an investigation was now underway, she said.

"Any charges laid before the courts will be at the discretion of the New Zealand Police."

No further comment will be made by the NZDF as the investigation is ongoing, she said.

In the past, soldiers found to be using illicit drugs have faced disciplinary action including fines, jail sentences or dismissal.

Six New Zealand soldiers allegedly using hashish - a potent form of cannabis - were sent home from Afghanistan in disgrace in 2008.

Another three Kiwi soldiers were sentenced to 28 days in military prison at Burnham Military Camp, near Christchurch, after using Penthrox - a controlled morphine-type painkiller that is inhaled.

Police have refused to comment further on the incident, including whether charges will be laid.

Senior Sergeant Steve Crawford said on Sunday the incident was a reminder that taking unknown substances was a serious risk.

"This is a timely reminder to people of the dangers of taking substances where they don't know the source.

"If you are taking a substance that you don't know where it is from or what it contains, you are taking very serious risks with your health and you are putting your life at risk."

Inquiries regarding the substance and its source were continuing, police said.

The newly-emerged drug "N-Bomb", or 25B-NBOMe, is a powerful synthetic hallucinogen related to amphetamines.

Earlier this year it led to six people being treated in Christchurch Hospital including one 20-year-old man who was critically ill on life support in intensive care for a number of days after suffering multiple organ failure.

A Christchurch Hospital spokeswoman said last week the man was in a stable condition but told NZME News Service today an immediate update could not be released without family permission.

Police and health officials have since warned people to avoid the drug and seek medical help immediately for anyone suffering adverse reactions.

The drug is sold in the form of paper, white powder, tablets or capsules and has been related to deaths in Australia and Asia.

Canterbury emergency medicine specialist Dr Paul Gee said it was a powerful synthetic hallucinogen.

"Hallucinations , confusion and agitation are common symptoms, sometimes leading to uncontrollable violent behaviour.

"Recreational doses are measured in tiny microgram quantities (less than the size of a match-head) so it is very easy to use more than intended," Dr Gee said.