Hamilton Lake (or Lake Rotoroa) is an urban peat lake with a surface area of about 54 hectares, a maximum depth of 6 metres with an average of 2 metres. It was formed about 15,000 years ago, when the Waikato River consisted of many channels across the Waikato. The land around the lake was a significant source of food and building materials for local Maaori.
Land for the Hamilton Lake Domain was set aside in the 1864 survey of Hamilton West. The Lake House is one of Hamilton's earliest surviving houses. It was built in 1872 for Alfred Cox and was designed by I.R. Vialou. In 1886 the lake was declared a reserve for public recreation under the control of the Hamilton Domain Board. Initially under the control of Waipa District Council, it was transferred to the Hamilton City Council in 1949. The Yacht Club was established in 1937.
The photographs in this collection date back to the 1890s and document some of the early activities around the lake, such as rowing and picnics, as well as the Lake House, playgrounds and Innes Common.
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