More than 100 jobs and millions of dollars of private investment have been promised for the Whakarewarewa Forest development, new details have revealed.
Design concepts and investment and job projections for the development of Whakarewarewa Forest and subsequent areas were revealed in yesterday's Rotorua Lakes Council meeting.
The development is projected to create 133 jobs, adding to the 470 jobs projected for the Lakefront redevelopment project.
In addition to the jobs, $68.35 million in private investment is expected to be created from the 13 development sites around the forest.
District revitalisation strategic development manager Portia McKenzie told councillors the overall objective of the development was to get the private investment coming back into the community, but the council's objectives were community focused.
"Those are around making sure we have those active environments for our residents and making sure we've got some great infrastructure down there as well. So that it's safe, it's a great place to play, that we've got that easy lifestyle and those great opportunities to play in the forest."
Construction of a new carpark has already begun on Long Mile Rd which will add more than 60 carparks to the existing parks.
Plans for Long Mile Rd also include bus parking, a turnaround bay, off-road walking tracks and lighting at night.
"At the moment as you go down Long Mile, a lot of people walk on the roads. It is fairly unsafe down there." McKenzie said.
Work has also started in a new area labelled Forest Hub 2 along Tarawera Rd, not far from Okareka Loop Rd.
More than 20 of the planned 200 carparks have been built and the area will also have grassed areas for events and toilet and shower facilities.
"There is some real high demand out there. On the weekends it is mostly full so we are looking at some alternative locations into the forest."
McKenzie said construction work would be staged to minimise impact on people's use of the area and access would remain for all tracks during construction.
A visitors' centre is planned, with construction set for 2020. A cafe is included in the concept designs but McKenzie said it would be independently developed and not part of what council was funding.
Under the Tree Walk and next to the visitors' centre the council plans to include a play area inspired by feedback from the community.
"A lot of the feedback we received through the Long-term Plan was talking around how we wanted to stay here longer and more opportunities to play."
Whakarewarewa Forest Development cultural adviser Kingi Biddle said it was not just the design concept that was making him excited but the return of values and respect for the forest that was embedded into the design.
"The messages that we teach our whānau when they go in the forest is one of respect, is one of environmental values, is one of cultural values."
Kingi said, by educating people, the council had an opportunity to ensure the Whakarewarewa Forest was not destroyed like similar environment attractions around the world.
"The actual design concept has a certain wind that blows through it, like the wind that blows through the forest and those winds are the values, the ha (breath) of respect.
"This is just not an iwi story. This is our story and we are doing it together." Biddle said.
Up to $7.5 million from the Government's Provincial Growth Fund has gone towards the Whakarewarewa Forest, with the same amount matched by the council.
Local resident value will boost
Double the number of visitors per annum
Improved value as tourism destination
Expected to double the number of mountain biking jobs
Improved iwi land development and value
More training and development partnerships for local jobs