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  • Writer's pictureGary Moller

Harm associated with bathing in Geothermal Hot Pools

Updated: Mar 25

(Updated 29 April 2022)

One of my clients wrote the following:

In July 2015, my husband and I, along with our two daughters aged 9 and 13, stayed in a motel in Tokaanu, south of Lake Taupo.

The emerald green of arsenic-laced water

Our youngest mentioned that she was not feeling well during our soak in the motel's private thermal hot pool. Thinking that this could be due to the pool's heat, we retired to the motel room, where she rapidly became ill. She started vomiting, had diarrhea and was complaining of a headache along with a sore throat. Her older sister also started to feel unwell, experiencing sore throat, nausea, and stomach cramps. In addition, her lymph nodes were the size of marbles on the back of her neck. We were all sick throughout the rest of our trip and became so exhausted it was a relief to get home. The symptoms we all experienced were random and lasted sporadically for months.

March 2018, we visited Taupo and Rotorua. This time we swam in a natural thermal hot stream and waterfall in the bush, located between Rotorua and Lake Taupo. Shortly after swimming, we all started to feel sick, experiencing fatigue, nausea, sore throats, stomach cramps, neck and shoulder pain, chills and sweats, migraines, vomiting and diarrhea. Our youngest started to complain of rib pain during the next few months, particularly when she exercised. In August 2018, during a dance lesson, she suffered unusual foot pain. Over time the pain progressed to both feet and eventually both legs. Due to numbness, extreme cold and pain, it became difficult for her to dance and play sports. She was tired and nauseous, and school became an effort. Beginning year 9, she started having severe nose bleeds, sometimes four a day, some lasting up to 2 hours at a time. During sports, she would experience dizzy spells and disorientation, nausea, irritability, and extreme tiredness.

Knowing that something was wrong but not knowing what was highly frustrating. Blood tests came back negative. X-ray's and MRIs picked up nothing, and after months of Physio and Chiropractor appointments, she still had random bouts of pain and numbness in her feet, along with rib pain.

In June 2020, we holidayed in Taupo. Whilst there, we bathed at one of the local thermal hot pools. Yet again, while in the water, our youngest complained of feeling nauseous. Over several weeks, we each experienced some of the same symptoms, sore throats, sweats, chills, hot/cold, migraines, vomiting, diarrhea, neck and shoulder pain and the usual fatigue.

After more blood tests coming back negative, desperate to find out what was going on, our youngest had a hair analysis.

When we received the results, we were all shocked to see that she had high levels of arsenic in her body. Subsequently, we all had a test done and found we had varying degrees of arsenic poisoning. We learnt that arsenic only remains in your blood for a brief period before depositing in your organs, fatty tissue and bones – (which is why the blood tests kept coming back negative).

The symptoms that we have experienced as a family over six years match up with the symptoms of arsenic poisoning. While we are relieved to know why we have been sick and are doing all we can to rid our bodies of arsenic, the impact has been detrimental. Our eldest daughter still feels fatigued, suffers from migraines, and often feels nauseous. Our youngest struggles to get out of bed due to fatigue and nausea suffers debilitating anxiety regarding school due to her many absences and health issues.

My husband, during this time, has had septic appendicitis and tendons snapping from both arms, requiring reconstructive surgery.

Due to the random nature of our symptoms, without the hair analysis, we would never have figured out what was wrong. We are thankful to now be able to take positive steps to regain good health.

(Name Supplied)



I suspect thousands of people in New Zealand have been harmed by bathing in geothermal hot pools containing arsenic. The hazard areas seem to be the Central North Island with Tokaanu appearing to be the most toxic.

Map of geology of New Zealand
The red volcanic areas are the ones to be most wary of

Arsenic destroys connective tissue in the body, hence the typical skin problems, frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel, joint pain, cartilage disorders and even outright tendon rupture!

Arsenic causes extreme fatigue and stomach upsets. It may cause hyperthyroidism and associated anxiety, followed by a crash into deep exhaustion and hypothyroidism.

Worse still, it is a neurotoxin affecting both the central and peripheral nervous systems. Typical symptoms include weakness, numbness and hypersensitivity of the limbs, due to nerve damage.

Clarification: We are referring to natural geothermal hot pools, not potable water that is geothermally heated by heat exchange systems. The public pools at de Bretts in Taupo are an example of safe geothermally heated water.

Here are some of this family's HTMA (reproduced with permission):

You can probably guess who spent the most time in the pools!

Note: when viewing the HTMA charts the levels of toxic elements refer only to what is coming out of the body, it tells us very little about how much is sequestered deep in the body such as in the bones, fat and organs like the liver, kidneys and even the brain. What we do know is there must be more where that came from.

A person with high levels of a toxin on the HTMA may have had a larger exposure, or they may be better at detoxifying. On the other hand, a person with low levels in their HTMA report may have large amounts of toxins sequestered deep within; it is there, but we just can't see it.

A person may become sensitised following a toxic exposure. I have seen many cases. So, a person may have an initial exposure that makes them ill. Most of the toxin is eventually removed, but what they discover is even the slightest whiff of the toxin or others, thereafter they fall violently ill. This may be a more or less permanent disability.

Bathing in geothermal hot pools has been a monumental disaster for this family. This family of four has been badly affected, each in their own way. Without the right testing, in this case, HTMA, they would never have known. For all they would have known is there was some kind of genetic weakness at work. Nobody would have ever guessed they were being poisoned by a practice that is deemed healthy and a great tourism feature for clean and green New Zealand.

I have written several articles about the topic of arsenic in Central North Island geothermal hot pools making people ill. I've even brought it to the attention of the Medical Officer of Health for the Region, but the best I can say is the response has been disappointing. Nothing has changed.

Read this article:

This has to end. We are making countless thousands of people very ill and this must stop. While I do care about tourism, this does not extend to tourism that is based on a lie and hurts people, some permanently.

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Jun 15, 2022

Like most people I have bathed in many of the thermal pools around the North Island including the free ones in the bush. My current favourite is the Wairakei Terraces Thermal Pools and we usually spend hours there. I read this article with some concern now that I may have ignorantly subjecting myself to poisonng. Any comments on this particular place as I believe they use geothermal water directly from source ?

Gary Moller
Gary Moller
Jun 15, 2022
Replying to

Kent, you are right to be concerned. The best thing to do it get tested and take things from there:


Colin Maxwell
Colin Maxwell
Apr 29, 2022

My goodness what a shocker this is.

Thank you for writing about this Gary.

Gary Moller
Gary Moller
Apr 29, 2022
Replying to

It is a shocker, Colin, but which is worse: The contaminated water or the lack of action by health officials? The mantra "to keep you safe" is very selectively applied.


Gary Moller
Gary Moller
Apr 29, 2022

Roger wrote:

"Hi Gary , stick with it , hopefully more people will query the fact , thermal water can be piped through ordinary water like a radiator to get thermal transfer , without subjecting those who feel like a relaxing dip [ without side effects ] , I have had a hair annalysis done and also have high arsenic levels , what can i do to speed up the secretion of this out of my body ??"

The first action is to ensure you are not putting more arsenic into the body. Then we give mineral antagonists to As which may include Ca, Mg, Na, Se, S and betacarotenoids: All depending on levels on your HTMA. If there is one…

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