News of the redevelopment of a "little hidden gem" has been welcomed by iwi, locals and business operators in the area.
Yesterday Rotorua Lakes Council announced work to upgrade Waitōharuru/Tarawera Landing would begin on January 10 and take about four months.
The reserve is used for a number of recreational activities and is home to commercial and tourism operations including The Landing Cafe, Rotorua Duck Tours, and Totally Tarawera, fishing charters and lake cruises.
The redevelopment includes an enhanced lake edge with a boardwalk, a pedestrian-friendly zone, picnic and lawn areas, landscaping and park furniture and optimisation of parking areas.
The jetty and boat ramp will be realigned, pontoon added and jetty will be angled to separate swimmers from the boat ramp area.
Rotorua Duck Tours owner Trevor Weir said the development was "great" for the area.
"The Landing has been getting run down and the thought of redevelopment and beautification is positive."
The wharf and jetty area had become problematic over the years with jetty jumpers and boat users often getting into conflict, he said.
He said the addition of a walkway around to the orchard area would also provide many more benefits for the area and the construction phase was a minimal issue compared to the benefits that the redevelopment would provide the community.
Te Arawa Lakes Trust chief executive Karen Vercoe said the trust 100 per cent supported the redevelopment plans and she was thrilled that work was due to start shortly.
"I'm all for anything that enhances families and the wider community's access to and use of the lake ... I'm very happy to support the plans, particularly as it supports Tūhourangi's long-held aspirations for the lake."
Obviously, there have been some safety issues and other issues that have needed to be addressed for some time, she said.
Vercoe said collectively the trust, mana whenua and other stakeholders all agreed with the redevelopment and she looked forward to watching the progress on the revamp.
The redevelopment will happen from January 10 due to a "very limited" time window to work in the lake, Rotorua Lakes Council said in a written statement. This means boat users will not be able to use the landing boat ramp and should launch from either Boat Shed Bay or Stoney Point Reserve ramps.
People will still be able to access the Tarawera Landing café, beach and public toilets.
Landing Cafe owner Geoff Webber said he was thrilled the area was finally getting the revamp it deserved.
Webber said the timing of the works was the only issue of concern, but he appreciated that the resource consent conditions placed constraints on the contractors.
He said the place was a "little hidden gem" and he cannot wait for the day when lots more locals and visitors were keen to spend a few hours or even a half-a-day enjoying what the area had to offer them.
Rotorua Economic Development chief executive Andrew Wilson said it was "wonderful news" the local community and visitors would soon be able to enjoy new and upgraded facilities at Tarawera Landing.
"We know how treasured Lake Tarawera is for mana whenua Tūhourangi and it's great that they have been a part of developing this amazing space for all to enjoy.
"Lake Tarawera is a very special place for iwi and locals alike and it's a major drawcard for all visitors who choose to come to Rotorua.
"Improvements to the landing area will only enhance the visitor experience and compliment all the other amazing developments our district has seen over the past 12 months."
The area is culturally and historically significant to mana whenua Tūhourangi and to the Rotorua district and as part of the redevelopment information and signage will be added to conserve and promote the cultural and heritage value of the reserve.
Rotorua Lakes Council has worked with Tūhourangi Tribal Authority representatives, Tarawera locals and other stakeholders for a number of years to develop the plan.
Funds for the redevelopment have come from a $293,000 grant from the Government's Tourism Infrastructure Fund in 2019.
Part of this was used to upgrade the public toilets while the remainder will go to the wider redevelopment along with investment from the council.
Further funding will be sought to carry out future work to enhance and protect the heritage and cultural sites in the adjacent Punaromia area.
Rotorua Lakes Council deputy mayor Dave Donaldson said he was "really looking forward" to seeing the outcome of this redevelopment.
"It's a busy time of year for our lakes but it's a short term inconvenience for a long-term benefit to both the Lake Tarawera community and visitors using the space.
"We're lucky to have access to unique spaces like Waitōharuru and even though the boat ramp will be closed, I hope people still get out and support The Landing Café."
Donaldson said due to the commercial sensitivity around the contractthe council could not specify the full contract amount for the work.
"I can however provide the total amount, including the toilet upgrades that happened in late 2020, which is $870,000. The amount is made up of council investment set out in the Long-term Plan and $293,000 from the Government's Tourism Infrastructure Fund."