The restoration of Sanatorium Reserve is due to begin next week with the first phase expected to cost $488,000 over five years.
The restoration of the reserve was one of the things mayor Steve Chadwick and deputy mayor Dave Donaldson pledged to do during the 2016 election campaign if re-elected.
At an operations and monitoring committee meeting on Thursday, the council's sport, recreation and environment manager, Rob Pitkethley, spoke about the project.
"It's a very ecologically significant site ... It's got some rather rare plants and a very rare colony of gulls.
"It's got a raft of problems."
He said the ecological consulting company Wildlands would be assessing where mechanical weed control was possible next week.
Pitkethley said Lotteries had contributed $80,000 over two years to the project and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council had also signalled a willingness to contribute.
Phase one of the project will involve ecological restoration through the control of plant pests like bamboo and pines, removing litter, pest animal monitoring and control and a small amount of revegetation.
The second phase would focus on cycling and walking links, sport and recreation facilities and a council storage area. The cost of that is to be determined.
"We want to make some tracks better and we probably want to close up some tracks," Pitkethley said.
Councillor Charles Sturt said he was delighted with the restoration plans.
"This has been one area of Rotorua that's been severely neglected and abused over many, many years.
"I think this could be a significant development in what was a wasteland. Which we used to cringe at it when we were kids seeing the rubbish dumped there."
Committee member Rawiri Waru said he wanted to see the reserve returned to its former glory.
"When that was gifted it was given in pristine condition ... We've got to try and get it back to that point again."
The reserve is between the Sudima and Puarenga Stream and is also known as Te Arikiroa. It was previously used as a rubbish dump.
At the time of the election campaign, Air New Zealand said it was eager to be part of the plan to restore the reserve as it was aligned to the Air New Zealand sustainability framework.
An Air New Zealand spokeswoman confirmed they were still working with the council on the project and on how the company could be involved.