Recreational walkers and sightseers can add another "must-do" walk to their summer holiday plans with stage one of a walking track around scenic Lake Tarawera scheduled to be completed by December.
More than half of the Lake Tarawera walking trail's 14km stage one track is complete, with officials saying it should be open for recreational use by summer.
Department of Conservation Rotorua Lakes area manager Nicki Douglas updated members of the Rotorua District Council's Te Arawa standing committee yesterday on progress with the walking trail, which has not been all plain sailing.
"This must be the most consulted project the department has been involved in.
"Certainly, we haven't got everybody to agree but we have done our best," Ms Douglas said.
The trail had been planned for several years and is a joint venture between local iwi and the Department of Conservation.
The trail will eventually become a link between lakes Tarawera, Okataina, Okareka and Rotomahana.
The project originally had a budget of $4.5 million but had been downgraded to $2 million.
In February, Rotorua man Metcalf Hawe told The Daily Post he was threatening court and protest action if the trail went ahead.
The Tuhourangi descendant said he was constantly having to clean up rubbish left by tourists who visited Lake Tarawera and was concerned about the environmental impact the trail would have on the area.
Nothing has come of Mr Hawe's court or protest action.
However, Tuhourangi kaumatua Anaru Rangiheuea, chairman of one of the land trusts involved in the venture, had previously said it was an exciting time for the iwi. "It certainly means a lot to Tuhourangi.
"You will always get someone who will be against a new venture but all of the trusts' chairmen were at the turning of the sod so that speaks volumes for the support it is receiving."
Mr Rangiheuea said the deal had the potential to be a multi-million dollar boost to the tourism industry in the city.
"With arrangements with other [tourism] counterparts in the area the iwi can run guided tours at a cost. They have to be careful and mindful that the historical areas are taken care of but it gives us tremendous opportunities of getting our people back to Tarawera," Mr Rangiheuea said.
Standing committee member Arapeta Tahana Jnr hoped those involved had thought about future job opportunities for local Maori.
Ms Douglas said it was up to iwi to take advantage of work opportunities created, that could include guiding, track maintenance, transport and the possible future development of spa/lodge accommodation and marae stays.
"Resource consents for the car park area, a jetty and additional toilet facilities are soon to be lodged with Rotorua District Council ... A management plan for the Tarawera Trail is currently under development," she said.