An aquatic harvester has been working at the Rotorua Lakefront this morning removing mammoth amounts of lake weed from the shore.

The large influx washed up around Sulphur Point and Ōhinemutu after strong winds and heavy rain battered the region on Sunday night.

The weed harvester is a paddle boat designed to cut and pick up surface-reaching weed. It can operate in water as shallow as about 300mm and does not affect the lake bottom, a Bay of Plenty Regional Council spokeswoman said.

The aquatic harvester working at the Rotorua Lakefront this morning. Photo / Andrew Warner
The aquatic harvester working at the Rotorua Lakefront this morning. Photo / Andrew Warner

It worked like a conveyor belt, pulling the weed up out of the lake on to a platform before taking it to be unloaded on the shore. A digger then scooped it up and took it to a truck for removal.

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It can carry about three tonnes of weed in one load, she said.

The operation only took two people, but other safety and monitoring personnel on-site were necessary.

Mammoth amounts of weeds washed up on the shores of Lake Rotorua. Photo / Supplied
Mammoth amounts of weeds washed up on the shores of Lake Rotorua. Photo / Supplied

The Rotorua Lakes Council will dispose of the weed by first taking it to be dewatered for about a week within the Sanatorium Reserve which sits on the shore of Lake Rotorua.

Following this, it will go to a composting facility for processing or alternatively taken directly to landfill for disposal, she said.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Rotorua Lakes Council had worked together on the plan to remove the weed. The operation would be finished by the end of the day.

She said an influx like this was not uncommon as storm conditions could break off weed from off-shore weed beds. It happened about every four to five years.

Ben Ngahuru, father of Mana Adventure's owner Donna Soloman wades through the lake weed on Monday. Photo / Andrew Warner
Ben Ngahuru, father of Mana Adventure's owner Donna Soloman wades through the lake weed on Monday. Photo / Andrew Warner

There was no action that could be taken that would prevent this from happening occasionally, she said.

A positive outcome of this event was they were able to remove weed that could potentially feed algal growth. She said this removal would contribute to the lake restoration programme.

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When asked if the removal affected the lake's marine life, she said it was minor and more beneficial as the weed was smothering organisms that resided in the area.

Donna Soloman, owner of the pedal boat business Mana Adventures on the Rotorua
Lakefront, told the Rotorua Daily Pot on Monday she had not seen weed wash up this badly for many years.

The aquatic harvester working at the Rotorua Lakefront this morning. Photo / Andrew Warner
The aquatic harvester working at the Rotorua Lakefront this morning. Photo / Andrew Warner

She said the wash up might be a good thing, as the council could take it into consideration while the Lakefront Development was in the early stage.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council senior projects officer Hamish Lass said people must thoroughly clean their equipment before leaving the lakes as weed could easily become lodged.

"The sheer volume of weed that has washed up in the last few days means that it is particularly important that people check all of the nooks and crannies," he said.

Rotorua Lakes Councils sport, recreation and environment manager Rob Pitkethley said a big wash-up of lake weed like this can impact water activities and businesses along the lakefront.

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He said being able to move quickly on this will allow people to appreciate the lakefront activities and attractions currently on offer.