Upgraded track around Te Awamutu's Lake Ngaroto opens
A Waikato lake has been attracting around 2000 people a week over summer, so a track upgrade was in order.
Lake Ngaroto is about 7km northwest of Te Awamutu and is the largest peat lake in the Waipa District, covering about 108 hectares.
Saturday was Waipa District Council's official opening of an upgrade to the 6km track around it, and other projects include the addition of a weir to alter water levels and the diversion of water entering from Lake Ngaroto-iti.
Tony Bolton has been exercising at the lake for 18 years and said there had been a "100 per cent improvement" over that time.
He's been going "right from when they started planting the manuka and everything. I've seen the whole thing changing, going from stage to the next.
"There are always people down here now, it doesn't matter when you come.
"They've raised all the boardwalks above all the lower flooded areas, so now it'll be all year round ... the new weir will give more control, I'd imagine."
Partner Imelda Devaney said she'd rowed on the lake and run the track, even in 30 degree heat.
She counted 31 people on their jog around the six-kilometre track on opening day, and data collected by Waipa District Council shows it's a popular spot.
A track counter installed in December 2015 showed 2000 people a week were using it, Waipa District Council spokeswoman Paula Reeves said.
The upgrades to the track were started when the other projects came in under budget, the technical officer for reserves and water said.
Now it has gone from about half a metre wide to 2m, cyclists will be allowed.
And the length of boardwalk has gone from about 500m to more than 2km.
Other changes include a timber weir at the northern end, to control the water level, and which features fish ladders.
"When the water level's higher on [one] side and lower on the other, the fish can climb up the ladders and get back into the lake."
And the catchment from Lake Ngaroto-iti was being diverted to help stop flooding during the colder months.
The lake has a water quality monitoring buoy, which gives information every 15 minutes.
Data showed the lower depth of the lake was running out of oxygen about 25 per cent of the time.
About 20,000 plants had been established around the lake over the past two years, Reeves said, and volunteers had put in about 1900 hours.
The Waikato River Authority had given $130,000 for revegetation and pest control in the lake, Reeves said.
Local iwi Ngati Apakura and archaeologist Alexy Simmons were involved with determining where the upgraded path should go, as there are pa sites around the lake.
Barney Manaia of Ngati Apakura, said it was a privilege to be involved with turning a place that had been remembered as a battle site into something for all to enjoy.
Signs that tell the history of the area are planned.
The official opening day also included volunteering by Mormon Helping Hands and a guided walk by former ecology lecturer Keith Thompson, known as The Bogman.