Feature article

Why 30% of Kiwis want the Tauranga lifestyle

Golden sandy beaches, a vibrant foodie scene, and a growing business hub; Tauranga's got it all.

What does a day look like living in the Bay of Plenty? A stroll up the Mount (Mount Maunganui), a cycle along the waterfront into Tauranga CBD, a coffee by the beach, what’s not to like?

It seems that a lot of Kiwis know about the lifestyle on offer in the Bay of Plenty. In a recent Trade Me survey, 30% said that they were thinking of moving to the region, specifically to Tauranga. Local real estate agents say it’s particularly appealing to Aucklanders, though people are moving there from all around the country.

Why an Auckland couple moved to Pāpāmoa

Auckland couple, Sylvie and Chris, moved from Howick to Tauranga three years ago, choosing Pāpāmoa to live, known for its beach and its proximity to the Mount. The couple, then in their early 50s, initially bought a large house because their Auckland money allowed it.

In the first year, Sylvie was still commuting to Auckland but after that, they “severed their Auckland ties”, she explains, really committing to their new home. Sylvie’s sister and mother were already living in Tauranga.

“We embraced the new lifestyle, bought a business, and went from doing corporate jobs to owning a business.”

They don’t feel as if they’re retired, they’re too young for that, but Sylvie says: “Life is very easy down here. When we’ve got downtime, it’s cool, we’ve got the beach at the end of the road.”

They have made some amendments along the way.

17 Mauritius Key, Papamoa, Tauranga.

They sold the big house after 18 months. “We realised it was way too big for what our brief had been – a chilled out lifestyle, a home that was lock ‘n leave and relaxed.“

They bought a smaller place, coincidentally across the road from Sylvie’s mother and they’re about to renovate.

“We’re going to funk it up and probably never sell again. It’s one level and a stroll to the Mount,” she says. They have a pub at the end of the road, restaurants and a FreshChoice supermarket they can walk to.

The former Aucklander who was born in Tauranga would like to see someone with a vision do something with Tauranga CBD.

“It’s got so much potential, with a Waikato University Tauranga campus there now. it just needs some people with vision. This could be like the university cities in the US where everyone’s riding bikes and doing adventure tourism,” says Sylvie. Tauranga city could be amazing with apartments, restaurants, cafes, and cool boutiques.

Mt Maunganui, meanwhile, has a lot going for it, she says. It’s like the Noosa of New Zealand, she reckons.

“The thing about the Mount and the Bay of Plenty is the people who have come to live here have made a conscious decision to do that, so there’s a cool vibe,” says Sylvie.

And there are some amazing businesses coming to the Bay, adds the former corporate high flyer. “It’s not a retirement mecca anymore, there are retired people, but there are also some real entrepreneurial go-getters.”

The active mother of two appreciates the bike pathways and the infrastructure available in her new hometown. “It’s more progressive than Auckland,” says Sylvie. In Pāpāmoa East, a lot of new development is going on, including a new supermarket and shopping centre and new homes.

A huge number of new developments are in progress in Pāpāmoa.

Innovative business community and a vibrant foodie scene

Callaghan Innovation manager, Kirstin Mead, moved to the Bay of Plenty from Wellington for lifestyle reasons – surf, beach, warmth, and proximity to family in Waikato and Rotorua.

Kirstin can’t rave enough about the business community in the Bay.

“Given the innovation world I work in – I’ve never come across such an incredible and supportive innovation and business community,” she says. People really come together to celebrate and support each other.

And something that people from outside the area may not know about the Bay of Plenty is the growing foodie scene there, she adds. This has been spearheaded by Stacey Jones from Kitchen Takeover, says Kirstin.

“She’s been instrumental in developing a food tourism strategy for the region which is bringing a new lens to the Bay other than beaches,” explains Kirstin. Stacey is behind Flavours of Plenty, a collective of foodies, chefs, producers, and storytellers looking to elevate the Bay’s foodscape.

What property agents say

Tremains’ agent, Brent Bastin describes walking up the Mount as good for the soul.

“The Mount has such an awesome vibe, when cruise ships come through, I love that good energy,” adds Brent, who lives at the Mount himself.

Brent has a wealthy client who has a great house at the Mount and a very nice one in Auckland where a lot of his friends live. But he prefers his home at the Mount from where he can paddleboard, fish, and jetski.

“There’s nowhere else in the country where he can access so many things in such a convenient way,” says the Tauranga agent.

Meanwhile, if you enjoy any outdoor activity, then the Bay of Plenty is the place for you. If you’re a cricket fan or like playing, it’s cricket central, home to many professional cricketers like Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, and Neil Wagner.

And let’s be frank, it’s all about the weather. The weather was sunny and 28 degrees C on the day of the interview in mid March. Tauranga is known for its sunny climate, mild temperatures, and light winds.

Tauranga is now a real city, claims the local. “But anyone I speak to, it’s about the lifestyle and getting out of the hustle and bustle,” he says. “It’s a lifestyle that gets you out of the house.”

You'll never be further than 20 minutes from Bay of Plenty's pristine beaches.

All types of living possible in Tauranga

Jan Hodges, the number one residential and lifestyle salesperson at Bayleys Tauranga, says it’s not called the Bay of Plenty for nothing.

Thanks to the region’s orchards and the climate, fruit, and veggies are in abundance here, says Jan. “If you plant a garden, everything grows beautifully, “ she says.

And commutes are very short. “The lovely thing is you can have a 3000 sq m lifestyle property and be 10 minutes from the CBD. You’re close to the water wherever you are. It’ll be 15 to 20 minutes at most, even if you’re in the country,” she says.

The agent’s son-in-law has moved to the area from Auckland and he’s loving the new lifestyle. The lawyer used to work in Queen Street, leaving home before 7 am for his commute of two bus rides. In Tauranga, he cycles along the waterfront and he’s at work in the CBD in 15 minutes, she says.

42 Holcombrooke Lane, Welcome Bay, Tauranga.

Prior to Tauranga, Jan used to live in St Helier’s Bay in Auckland. She enjoyed living there, but when they decided to make the move, she knew she wanted to live in Bethlehem, a suburb of Tauranga.

She explains: "Bethlehem has a fabulous shopping centre, a butcher, a baker, a supermarket, gift shops, and furniture shops, everything is there.

And the sense of community in Bethlehem is particularly good, says Jan. She remembers telling a young woman who had been in London for 10 years about the community feel in the Tauranga suburb. The client bought it there with her partner and she still talks to Jan about how easy it was to become part of the community straight away.

The region's attracting young and old

Jason Eve, head of high-end real estate firm, Oliver Road, says he’s seeing more younger generations come to the Bay of Plenty. “It’s the way they approach life, they’re looking for lifestyle and balance with a better climate,” he says.

“With the temperatures all year round they can go out and swim in the sea before work, mountain bike and sail after work, rather than just go for short bouts on the weekend,” he says

Another of the attractions of Tauranga and its environs is the variety of property on offer, a number of local agents agree.

“There are luxury large waterfront estates, golf course properties, horticultural properties, apartments, townhouses, old character homes in the Avenues, and affordable homes in new suburbs,” says his colleague Cam Winter.

Mount Maunganui isn't short of luxury properties.

It’s about understanding the different types of properties that you can buy in the Bay whether it’s a small home, a lifestyle one, or a large executive home in a gated area, he adds.

Mt Maunganui is like the “cooler little sister” of the area, with trendy shops and eateries while Tauranga is settling into becoming the classier older brother, he adds.

The most sought-after streets in the Mount are Muricata Ave and Te Ngaio Road, says Cam. 

As for your buying power in the Western Bay of Plenty, Jason says, the benefit of the market is a lot closer to normal, which means as a buyer you have the privilege of being able to take time properly to consider a property.

“There are more options on the market. It’s a great time to buy with a minimum number of compromises,” he says.

Tauranga’s future prospects as a place to work and live

Greg Simmonds, chief operating officer of Western Bay of Plenty economic development organisation, Priority One, says Tauranga was the fastest growing city in New Zealand last year, due largely to Aucklanders moving there. The population of the city grew by 2%, or 3000 people, in the year to June 2021, according to Statistics NZ. The city’s population is around 155, 200.

While there are currently 104,000 jobs in the local job market, Priority One expects another 40,000 more skilled jobs to be created in Tauranga over the next 30 years across a range of sectors, from professional, managerial, manufacturing, and technology to construction, horticulture, and education.

People looking at moving to the Western Bay of Plenty are attracted by the rapidly growing economy which includes excellent funding for start-ups, says Greg. 

Waikato University Tauranga Campus was opened in 2019.

The region is home to the country’s largest angel network, Enterprise Angels, as well as tech incubator, WNT Ventures, and Craig’s Investment Partners. The Port of Tauranga and the Tauriko Industrial park are another plus for business owners who are expanding their operations.

Residents are also enjoying the new amenities in the city of Tauranga, says Greg. The Waikato University Tauranga campus opened in 2019, Bay Oval international cricket ground opened in 2019 and a number of shopping centres in the area have been given big upgrades.

“Tauranga’s proximity to Auckland is also seen as an advantage,” says the Priority One COO.

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