Party-goers in the capital are being urged to take extra care over New Year, with an increased amount of harmful substances found in party drugs during pill testing at festivals.
A number of posts were made to Wellington-based Facebook page Vic Deals, warning people about harmful substances in the party drug MDMA.
Volunteer organisation Know Your Stuff NZ has been testing drugs at New Year's festivals throughout the week.
The drug-related harm-reduction service said on Wednesday that more than half of samples it tested had included dangerous stimulants from the cathinones family, most commonly eutylone.
Know Your Stuff deputy manager Dr Jez Weston said it was impossible to know where exactly the product was concentrated, as the festival season was moving it around the country.
"A lot of people are moving around, a lot of the testing is at festivals, some of those people will have come from Auckland, some of those people will have come from Wellington.
"It's hard to say exactly where things are, but I would say things are pretty well distributed across the country."
The most common cathinone product found in the drug, eutylone (also known as "bath salts"), was being found in far greater quantities than previous years.
A risk with eutolyne was that people would believe the drug had not worked and take another pill, leading to side effects such as sleeplessness, stomach upsets and paranoia. In extreme cases it could cause seizures and death.
Know Your Stuff said it was impossible to tell the difference between MDMA and eutylone on smell or sight alone, and advised people to get their pills tested at festivals.
Weston said they were seeing cathinones in a variety of different forms, leading them to believe it was coming from a range of sources, rather than just one import.
He believed it was a consequence of supply chains disrupted by Covid-19.
"It's not what I would call MDMA spiked with other stuff, it's MDMA replaced or substituted with other stuff ... I suspect that it's just what's available.
"I'm sure Covid has affected supply chains for this product in the same way it's affected supply chains for a whole lot of other products."
He advised anyone considering taking MDMA not to take anything that had not been tested, and to seek medical help if concerned about something they had taken.