"I wouldn't live anywhere else."
That's the reaction from near-lifelong Tauranga resident Craig Jacobson to news Tauranga people rate their quality of life higher than those in other large New Zealand cities.
Some 91 per cent of the 560 Tauranga locals interviewed for the 2018 Quality of Life Survey rated their quality of life between good and extremely good.
That was a higher score than any of the seven other cities canvassed, including Auckland (83 per cent) and Wellington (89 per cent).
Jacobson, general manager of the Ssangyong car dealership in Cameron Rd and father of two, said he was "born and bred" in Tauranga and had stayed because he loved the climate, lifestyle and beaches.
"I think it's a pretty great place to live."
He said he was happy to see investment in cycleways and the revitalisation of the CBD, even if downtown parking was a mission.
"Overall, I think the city is heading in the right direction."
More than half those surveyed in Tauranga, however, also said the city itself had gone downhill in the last year.
Increasing traffic congestion, population increase, housing issues and failing infrastructure were the top complaints.
Tauranga's frustration with its traffic dwarfed every other city's including Auckland's.
More congestion was a concern for 83 per cent of those surveyed, more than double second-placed Auckland's 36 per cent.
Among those who thought Tauranga was a better place to live than a year ago, the most popular reasons were new amenities (shops, doctors, libraries etc), economic growth and roading upgrades.
Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said it was good to see so many people happy with life in Tauranga.
"I enjoy living here too."
He credited the city's natural environment, climate and retention of its small town feel for the result.
"It's a very friendly place."
The traffic complaints were no surprise, he said.
"If I had been filling in the survey, I would have put traffic at the top of the list too."
The issue had risen to the top of the council's agenda.
"But until we can persuade the Government to work with us on some of these issues there is no end in sight."
Economic development agency Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said it was "no surprise" Tauranga topped the list for a good quality of life.
"But being a lovely, liveable city also gives us some challenges. We need to grow in a smart way."
Quality of Life ranking
- Tauranga 91 per cent
- Hutt 90 per cent
- Wellington 89 per cent
- Dunedin 87 per cent
- Porirua 85 per cent
- Hamilton 84 per cent
- Christchurch 84 per cent
- Auckland 83 per cent
- Source: Quality of Life survey 2018