The reserve is bounded by Lake Rotorua to the north, Te Ngae Road to the south, Puarenga Stream to the east, and the Polynesian Spa and EEC to the west.
The DOC Sulphur Point Wildlife Sanctuary sits adjacent to the reserve. Sanatorium, Sulphur Point and the geothermal habitats on the eastern side of the Puarenga Stream comprise the fourth largest area of geothermal habitat in New Zealand and are considered to be nationally-significant.
This site provides a unique environmental restoration opportunity within the heart of a city. Its ecological value includes bird populations, geothermal vegetation and features and landscape views. In addition to being a taonga for local residents, this area has the potential to become an amazing visitor destination through further land use planning and infrastructure installation. It also provides a crucial link between the Lakefront and the Whakarewarewa Forest and includes a section of the Te Ara Ahi Cycleway.
The vision for the site is:
"The ecological integrity of Sanatorium Reserve and the Sulphur Point is restored so that it can be enjoyed by visitors using a high quality, low impact network of tracks and other facilities."
The restoration project has 2 main stages:
- ecological restoration
- infrastructure enhancement
An ecological management plan for the reserve has been developed by Rotorua-based Wildlands Consultants, to provide a guide to restoration of the site. The ecological restoration objectives are:
- Vegetation at the site is returned to its unique geothermal composition, free of weeds.
- Birds and other indigenous fauna thrive at the site, and pest animal numbers are low.
- The site is safe for all users.
- A unique visitor experience is provided through both the ecological restoration and other initiatives that enhance the visitor experience.
The plan is divided into management units, with priorities and timelines for restoration over five years. The main focus of this work is pest animal control, pest plant & tree removal (predominantly arrow bamboo) and ongoing ecological monitoring.
Funding for the ecological restoration has been allocated in the LTP. In addition, $85,000 has been secured from the Lotteries Environment Fund and Pub Charities for use in 2018-2020. Further funding is being sought to complete the ecological work.
A Council project team has been set up, with Richard Dahlenburg as Project Manager. Wildlands have been contracted to deliver the first 2 years of the restoration work. Work in the reserve will commence in early September 2018.
The second stage of the project will include revegetation and strands round the repurposing of land and buildings in the centre of the reserve; development of appropriate infrastructure such as viewing platforms; cultural/ecological interpretation; and collaboration to fit in with the upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant.
This stage will involve significant consultation/planning with iwi and conservation partners and reserve users.