Scalds, shock and even death are potential consequences for people entering geothermal areas such as Sulphur Bay and Waiotapu Mud Pools.

Because of this, signage has been reviewed and is being increased by the Department of Conservation to make visitors aware of these hazards.

"I think people underestimate how hot geothermal areas can be and also the ground around these areas can be unstable ... the crust is thin on top and boiling hot water sits just below the surface," Department of Conservation ranger Colette Wi said.

At Waiotapu mud pool there are defined footprints in the mud showing where people have crossed safety barriers.


Temperatures in this area exceed 100C and noxious gases may be emitted as a result of the geothermal activity.

Additional signage has been placed along the Waiotapu Boardwalk that provides safe access to Waiotapu mud pool.

As one of the largest, free geothermal mud pools, this area is popular with tourists travelling the Thermal Explorer Highway and Te Ara Ahi (Thermal by bike) part of New Zealand's cycle trail.

Further signage is also being produced to highlight geothermal risks in the Sulphur Bay area, particularly around the Nature Heritage Trail.

"Rotorua Lakes Council has some existing warning signage for people enjoying Sulphur Bay's walking trails but we still see people venturing into prohibited areas which are unsafe. We don't want another tragedy on our hands," Miss Wi said.

An 8-year-old boy died on Boxing Day 2010 when he fell into a hot pool in Kuiaru Park.

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27 Jan, 2016 10:30am
2 minutes to read

Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve, Waimangu Scenic Reserve, Sulphur Bay Wildlife Refuge and Lake Tarawera Reserve are some of the geothermal areas administered by the Department of Conservation with support from iwi.