A bursting Lake Rotorua has caused significant damage to Rotorua's Lakefront after torrential rain forced the lake to overflow.
Just after 2pm on Wednesday, the lake spilled on to the cobbled walkways, lifting the cobbles and causing damage to the underneath of the walkway.
Rotorua Lakes Council moved quickly to put up fencing around the damaged areas for safety purposes.
While some locals expressed concern about the lake level - saying they'd never seen it so high in decades - a council spokesman said there were tenable reasons the lake was left to fill up so high, including safety for more significantly flooded areas further down the Kaituna catchment.
Council emergency management primary controller Stavros Michael told the Rotorua Daily Post the extent of the damage would not be known until the lake subsided, hopefully on Thursday.
Mr Michael said the control of the lake levels was up to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council but given the amount of rain that fell in such a short period, it probably wanted to use Lake Rotorua as a "storage area" so flood waters could be controlled in the Whakatane and Tauranga areas.
"Yes the water level is high but it has not caused any significant risk or damage."
The Rotorua Daily Post posted a live video of the overflowing Lakefront this afternoon, which quickly went viral.
One person watching said: "First time in my 37 years I've seen this!". Another said: "Oh my. Never seen the lake like that. Wow."
Former Rotorua mayor Grahame Hall, who was mayor in the early 1990s when the Lakefront area was built, said the then council had used data from more than 50 years of lake levels to determine where the cobbled walkway should go.
Mr Hall said it was only the second time in his memory since the walkway was installed the lake had overflowed to such an extent.
"I've seen it do that before eight or nine years ago and it caused a little bit of damage but I've not seen it like this before."
Mr Hall said he was aware Lake Rotorua was used as a holding pen to ensure areas further down the catchment don't get too flooded.
"I just hope someone has been monitoring it because we had plenty of warning."
Regional Council duty flood manager Graeme O'Rourke said the Okere gates were fully opened and have been for the past 10 days.
"They are currently processing around 40m3 of water per second and this is double the amount of water that usually flows through these gates. Rafting is only allowed to take place when water is flowing at 26m3 or less, therefore there is no rafting on the Kaituna at present.
"With the surrounding catchments already saturated, the rain will end up in the lakes very quickly, raising lake levels. With the unprecedented volume that has fallen it may take some weeks for lakes to naturally return to normal levels."