Today’s photos come from a trip I made to Tauranga for Labour Weekend last year. Tauranga’s one of our larger cities, with a population of around 123,500 people (having grown pretty quickly in the last couple of decades  – in 1996, its population was 84,200).


Mount Maunganui remains a cracker of a beach. Golden sand, a bit of surf, the Mount itself anchoring one end of the beachfront… magic. The sand carries on more or less unbroken for 30 kilometres, well past the edge of developed Tauranga. This isn’t a great photo, but I do like that it shows a range of modes: walking and cycling are popular, à la Tamaki Drive, and of course the cars are there too.

Visitor accommodation is the main land use close to the Mount itself. There’s a range of hotels, motels, camping grounds and holiday apartments. Some of the apartment buildings are ten stories or more – more intensely developed than any Auckland beach. The highest value land use occurs on the highest value land, as it should do – something which our planning rules don’t permit on Auckland beaches.


Over to the Tauranga side of the city now. The Strand runs along the waterfront, but seemed fairly dull and gloomy when I was there – and it wasn’t just the weather. The street was actually closed off to vehicles for the holiday weekend – think something similar to the Playing in the Streets event run in Auckland in 2012, with games for kids, books and beanbags and so on. Unfortunately, the place was still quite dead, especially by contrast with Mount Maunganui. The Bay of Plenty Times suggests that the Tauranga CBD has been struggling for a while, and there are some complex issues to resolve there….


This is a little further down The Strand. Knit bombing can’t hide the issue of those railway lines being pretty terrible in terms of severance from the waterfront. They’re coming from the port, so playing a vital role in terms of freight, but pedestrian amenity suffers as a result. Of course, the car park doesn’t help either.


Still on The Strand. There are a few people around, and some people walking on the street, but I wouldn’t call it a lively atmosphere. The playground to the left of the shot is an interesting addition, though – that area used to be carparking, and the Council has removed quite a bit of that in favour of the playground and an extended grass area. Getting rid of waterfront parking is something we should all encourage – it’s a waste of high-value land. Hopefully this and other Council initiatives will catalyse development in the area, and there’ll be a bit more going on next time I’m back there!

Share this


  1. Tauranga’s CBD struggles because of the likes of Bayfair, Palm Beach Plaza, and other suburban shopping areas. While Tauranga’s growth has been impressive, it hasn’t been from working professionals, more retirees. The city centre feels no bigger than somewhere like Palmerston North, and even that’s pushing it; only a few tall towers distinguish it from somwhere like Te Awamutu or Timaru. Not to say that it isn’t a lovely place, it’s just not a big one. More apartment towers in the CBD could help the issue; it stems from a lack of people going into town to shop (since there aren’t that many office workers), and that’s due to too many suburban offerings.

    And yes, the waterfront of the Strand is massively underutilised. A few pop-up cafés have been good recently, but more permanent offerings are needed to really get the area going in my opinion. But there’s already an abundance of eateries in the area. Not to mention the rail line.

      1. I’ve always wondered whether the rail line can be slung under the Harbour Link – or even a new bridge created adjacent to it. That would bypass the CBD, Matapihi and eliminate a few level crossings around the Mount. That would be pretty pricey though.

        1. The problem slinging it under the road harbour bridge is the gradient is too steep for the DL locomotives hauling the Metroport wagons which are often 30-50 long.

          You could do a cut and cover trench under the existing line that runs next to the CBD followed by a tunnel under the existing rail bridge reconnecting with the line on the Mount side. Would be pricey but can be done

          1. New Plymouth has a rail line in a very similar situation to Tauranga’s but in NP they have lined it with grass and trees where it passes by the CBD. The strip of land between the railway and the sea has been turned into an excellent pedestrian promenade and cycleway that on my visits has always been busy.

            A necessary piece of industrial infrastructure can be successfully integrated with the needs of the townsfolk given a bit of imagination.

            A smart new railway station and the restoration of regular passenger services to Auckland would improve matters as well, I believe, but sadly I don’t see that happening any time this century.

          2. Having high speed passenger rail between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga can be done but it requires the trains to be moving at least 120km/h to make it viable.

            And before we can do that the line between Pukekohe to Tauranga will need to be double tracked and the Kaimai Tunnel bought up to speed to support well for starters the increased freighters let alone passenger rail

            So yeah nothing this century on that

          3. Having said that, and having a bit more of a look on GMaps, there is not much grade separation to be done along the harbourside and a bridge on the southern side of the existing bridge doesn’t look too difficult.

      2. this section to used for Metroports, as the Tauranga container terminal is just west of here, not at the Mount.
        However is used by forestry product trains from Tokoroa, and containers from east of Tauranga.
        Was a proposal to have rail on the initial Harbour Bridge which would have resulted in the removal of this rail line, but everyone involved was too cheap and visionless.

  2. Agree with @Luck E about the suburban shopping centers damaging the CBD.
    Having said that, I work in the CBD and the place is generally humming during the day – strand retailers seem to do pretty well during lunch time. It seems like the suburban malls have sucked up the growth Tauranga has had over the years and now have pretty strong control over their catchment, whilst the CBD really only services Otumoetai and Tauranga South down to Greerton. People go to their own local suburban centers because they’re closer and the CBD generally doesn’t have much in the way of specialty retailers – just the generic chain stores available anywhere. Hopefully this will change and Tauranga starts to grow up. It might change quite dramatically when/if the new tertiary campus opens on Durham st.

  3. I have been to the Tauranga in 2011. And I was quite surprised with how big it is despite the tiny CBD.
    I have been to Bayfair Mall and it was so big for a city of its size. I think more apartments similar to what you see at the Mount would help, though it is in a bit of an awkward place. Along with Tauranga Airport.

    You know you should do some posting of other NZ towns every now and again and how their PT/Road/Cycling systems compare to that of the bigger cities.

  4. The whole seaside area full of car parking, clearly much more important than using the area for cafes and parks which might help attract people.
    Other solution to help CBD would be a a great frequent and cheap bus service, has been improving rapidly but could do much better.

Leave a Reply