In this time there have been some changes in either ownership or in management of land and ventures adjacent to the proposed walking track route. We know that we do have some new people that we need to make contact with and discuss this proposal with, so that everyone is aware of what is being proposed. Hopefully these new people will also support the project as previous owners and managers did.
Just briefly to recap, there has long been a wish in the Okareka community (and wider Rotorua area as well) for a walking track to go all the way around Lake Okareka. There used to be on old DOC track that went from Millar Road, near the entrance to Crater Lake Farm, up Bald Spur and then along the top of the ridge to Tobin's Hill. The track was not very well formed in places, and eventually DOC removed the small bridge across an ephemeral stream near the Millar Road entrance to the track, as at that time the walk really didn't go anywhere. Over time the old walking track has become very overgrown and is now very difficult to find.
In 2002, after many years of discussion and negotiation with the Playne family, the Rotorua District Council were able to open the existing Lake Okareka Walkway. Since this opened there has been discussion in the community of continuing the walking track. So in June 2009 LORRA (now LOCA) wrote to Department of Conservation with a proposal to form a walkway around Lake Okareka. Since then, with the Department's blessing, a LOCA sub Committee have been quietly working at completing the “Assessment of Environmental Effects” (AEE) for the proposed walking track.
The idea is for the track to be established in several stages. The first stage would be from Boyes beach to the Millar Road Dept of Conservation beach and camp in the Lake Okareka Scenic Reserve. Other stages are from the DOC camp and beach up the valley and side of Bald Spur; to re-establish a foot bridge over the ephemeral stream near Millar Road; to re open the old track along the ridge to Tobin's Hill with some re alignment in places; to establish a better route from Tobin's Hill down to the outlet of Lake Okareka; and to cross the outlet and connect with the existing Lake Okareka Walkway.A large part of the AEE involves consultation – there has been a large public meeting for Okareka residents, adjoining land owners and also with representatives from various community groups. This public meeting gave full support to the concept.
We have sent letters to the various adjoining land owners and other interested groups such as Tuhourangi Tribal Authority who own Boyes beach and have mana whenua status for the land over which much of the proposed walking track will go; Rotorua District Council who administer the Boyes beach reserve area; Te Waiariki Purea Trust who own the waka ama shed at Boyes beach; and the Te Au Rere waka ama club who operate from Boyes beach. Most of these landowners and orgnaisations have sent letters of support for the concept.
The track and all structures will be built to comply withy Dept of Conservation track standards. The AEE contains a detailed description of the proposed route and any impacts on flora and fauna (plants and animals). It also details the proposed track and how it will be constructed. The AEE also requires formal engineering plans for any structures such as bridges and board walks for the proposed walking track. Recently engineer Paul Richardson from PR Engineering Consultants has been employed to investigate the walking track and design elements such as foot bridges and board walks that will be required. These engineering plans will be part of the final requirements for the AEE that will go to Department of Conservation for approval.
Once the AEE is approved by DOC, the Lake Okareka Walking Track Committee will then need to seek resource consents from the regional council, and if required any building permits for structures from the Rotorua District Council. Hopefully these consents will be approved. When they are approved, the Lake Okareka Walking Track Committee will then be able to make plans about funding applications for structures and the establishment of walking track on Stage 1 from Boyes beach to the DOC camp and beach off Millar Road. This stage is anticipated to be very gentle in gradient, with a 1.5 m wide track, which will be suitable for use by wheel chairs and push chairs.
Please contact Sandra Goodwin 3628 865 or Geoff Palmer 3628 379 if you would like any further information about this proposal.