Peat forms from the build up of partially rotted plant material in wet environments. Peat lakes form in peatland areas such as bogs. Peat soils have a marked effect on the physical, chemical and biological nature of peat lakes. For example, the water is usually stained a brownish colour due to the high levels of dissolved organic matter leaching from adjoining peat soils. Water in the bottom of the lake is usually mildly acidic and often low in dissolved oxygen.
Peat lakes have unique plants and animals that have evolved to cope with their acidic conditions. Changes in water quality due to the surrounding land use could threaten these specialised plants and animals.
One of the Waikato region's natural wetlands, Lake Ngaroto provides an easy 1.5 hour walk and is a popular recreational reserve year round.
Plentiful birdlife around the lake make for ample bird watching opportunities, and the mostly flat walking track, picnic area and playground make this a great family walk in the Waikato.
The local sailing club is regularly on the water, while the camouflaged maimai (huts) around the lake's edge play host to duck hunters during the months of May and June.
The walking track passes through bush areas, farmland and wetlands as it navigates around the lake, with signage providing information and illustrations about the local ecology.