Boaties and the Coastguard say they are fed up with years of access problems at Lake Okataina.

Fluctuating lake levels are exasperating problems with piles of sand and pumice on the ramp, slippery wooden boards and the narrow design with concrete walls on either side.

Rotorua Lakes Council says "unprecedented weather events" in the past 15 months have created issues and it is looking for a solution to the problem at the ramp, which it says is not a health and safety risk.

Rotorua Coastguard president Barry Grouby described the lake's only boat access ramp as "the most stupid ramp in New Zealand".


"Whoever designed it years ago needed a kick in the behind," Grouby said.

The Coastguard has to take parts off its trailer so it fits within the ramp walls.

"It is almost unusable for us which is very annoying," he said. "It needs bowling over and [to be] replaced."

Rotorua fisherman Peter Morrison described the ramp as a "mongrel".

He said out-of-towners particularly struggled with it.

"There are more boats than ever using it. Our lakes are meant to be the jewel in our crown, I cannot understand why we haven't upgraded the facility.

"I have seen numerous boats come unstuck. The only ones benefiting are the panel beaters."

29 Mar, 2018 8:30am
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Lakes Lodge Okataina owner Nick Berryman has lived on the lakefront for a decade.

He has been called upon so many times when vehicles and boats get stuck that he has put up a sign for $60 per tow.

"People are getting stuck weekly down there. It is not really our job to get them out."

He said it can take as little as 20 minutes for the ramp to be covered again once the surface is cleared by council contractors using a mini excavator.

"We need a solution. It may be a high cost but in the long term it will be cheaper than the quick fix weekly clearing and maintenance."

Berryman said he had raised the issues with the council, including after he had to call emergency services when a boatie badly dislocated his knee after slipping on the ramp.

Fish and Game officer Matt Osborne said the Rotorua office received a few comments every summer about the ramp, and the problem varied depending on the size of a vessel within the ramp walls.

He thought the Rotorua Lakes Council was "pretty proactive" about clearing the lake access.

In a written statement the council said it owned and maintained 54 jetties and 39 boat ramps.

"All jetties and ramps are checked and, if need be, cleared every Friday during the summer months. We rely on the public to notify us of any problems that may occur between checks," sport and recreation manager Rob Pitkethley said.

"The unprecedented weather events in the past 15 months have created a number of issues at jetty and boat ramp locations due to higher lake levels.

"We have asked for expressions of interest to provide possible solutions to cover the large range of levels some lakes experience and while floating jetties may be suitable in lakes that have steeper banks, they are much less viable at Okataina because of its shallow gradient.

"Council has proposed to dedicate $1.9 million to lakes infrastructure enhancements, including jetties and boat ramps, in the 2018-28 Long-term Plan which is currently out for consultation.

He said the council had received two complaints about the Okataina jetty during the past six months, one last November and one this week.

"Okataina, in particular, can change dramatically in a short space of time due to southerly winds.

"The width of the ramp at Okataina is not considered a health and safety issue because the side walls help to prevent boats and vehicles falling off. However, we are aware the walls make it more difficult for some users to navigate and reverse which can at times cause longer waiting times for users at peak periods."