Hidden danger lurking in holiday photo
THERE are no barriers that photogenic young tourists won't cross in search of the perfect holiday photo.
This couple risked landing in hot water after a visit to the Wai-O-Tapu thermal area in Rotorua.
Walking straight past a sign from the Rotorua Lakes Council reading "Danger Thermal Area", a young woman and dutiful boyfriend decided the steaming lake was the perfect location for a photo shoot.
"I couldn't believe my eyes," said Travel editor Winston Aldworth, who filmed the couple posing over geothermal geysers.
Without managing to speak to the pair, it could not be said where the tourists were from.
Fortunately, the couple avoided any of the dangerous boiling pools or geothermal steam.
"We do get the occasional complaint regarding people ignoring safety signage at our geothermal areas, however the majority of locals and visitors are respectful and follow instructions," said Rob Pitkethley, the council's sport, recreation and environment manager.
"Safety is our top priority, however we know that Rotorua's unique landscape is what draws so many people to our district. We want to create spaces where people can enjoy the active environment as much as possible from a safe distance."
The Waikato region and Rotorua contains 80 per cent of New Zealand's geothermal features.
Some of these features such as natural hot pools and spas are world-class attractions, however not all the area's warm springs are tourist safe.
Along with scolding mud pools and highly acidic geysers, some of Rotorua's waters can contain less conspicuous danger.
Hot water springs have been known to be breeding sites for extremophile bacteria such as Naegleria fowleri or "brain-eating" amoeba that causes meningitis.
The only really safe way to enjoy swimming, and perhaps taking a selfie or two in geothermal areas is to research carefully, keep your head above the water, and follow advice from local council and health authorities.
"Rotorua's geothermal areas are beautiful, however they can be unpredictable and we urge all visitors to adhere to instructions on all signs for their own safety," Mr Pitkethley said.
"Council staff check and review signage and safety barriers regularly and any issues are remedied as soon as we are alerted."
This article originally appeared on the New Zealand Herald and was reproduced with permission