In true "Field of Dreams" style, a man-made lake in rural Napier is becoming an unexpected visitor attraction, thanks to one man's three-decade-long effort to "tidy up" a swamp.

After buying a swampy paddock with wife Diane, retired sheep and beef farmer Roger Alexander said he started building the lake on Puketapu Road because he "needed something to do".

"I bought this property in 1978 and the area here was swamp - it's always been swampland.

"I thought to myself, 'This is an eyesore for Puketapu' and 'Puketapu deserves better than this'. So, I thought I would tidy it up a bit and make it look more respectable for the entrance to the village."


Following a serious drought in 1983, he started earthmoving to try to build a lake.

'It was a tremendous job because when you're dealing with a swamp, you are dealing with mud all the time. It took 30 years to build the lake. It was a mammoth job building it - mammoth - because you had to go round slowly building it."

Roger Alexander, builder of Puketapu Lake, venue of the Puketapu Auction and Fair. PHOTO / DUNCAN BROWN
Roger Alexander, builder of Puketapu Lake, venue of the Puketapu Auction and Fair. PHOTO / DUNCAN BROWN

The majority of the property around the lake had been built up by about three feet as a result of the mud and dirt removed.

"It takes a long time to do all that with diggers and scrapers. And every time you did a round you have to leave it to dry out - and then, of course, we put the islands in - and those sank.

"There's so many problems that you don't even think of when you're building a lake out of a swamp but it worked in the end.

"We gradually got there though. It's all worked out really well. It's also given us another 20 acres of grazing land, which was just swamp before, and it has given us a 10 acre lake of nice water for the birdlife - and the birdlife just love it.

"We have a huge range of birds here."

Mr Alexander said a group of spoonbills visited the lake, as did an occasional white heron. A group of 14 white swans had also made the lake their home.

Tourists and visitors had also started arriving to see the birdlife.

"It's turned into quite a showplace now. There's always cars stopping and people taking pictures nowadays."

On Sunday, for the third successive year, Mr Alexander's lakeside property and grounds will host the Puketapu Country Fair and Auction, which will raise money for the Rotary Club of Taradale, as well as the Puketapu School and the township's parish church.