Tauranga's population is growing almost twice as fast as it was a decade ago.

Statistics New Zealand's provisional estimates put Tauranga's population at 131,500 residents - up more than 11,000 in four years.

By comparison, it took Tauranga eight years to grow by that many people between the 2006 and 2013 censuses.

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In the 12 months to June 30, Tauranga's population swelled by 3200 people.

The 2.5 per cent increase was mainly due to more people moving to the city from elsewhere in New Zealand or the world than leaving Tauranga.

The city's net migration was 2700 while the natural increase - births minus deaths - was 500.

Ann Kerewaro of Multicultural Tauranga - which provides services to help new migrants settle in and meet people - said her team was as busy as they had ever been.

Many of the people who sought their help in the past year had been Indian, but she had also noticed more Chinese people than in past years.

Nigel Tutt, chief executive of economic development agency Priority One, said it was no surprise Tauranga was growing.

It was "a desirable location for people to move to" and employment prospects were good, he said.

The rapidly rising population had gone some way towards easing the number one complaint of local business owners: not being able to find enough good-quality staff.

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"More people moving to Tauranga is helping that dynamic."

The local economy was strong, on the back of a strong national economy, he said, but the population growth did bring challenges.

Chief among them, in his view, was ensuring infrastructure kept up. Residents would have noticed the traffic congestion building over the past few years.

Improving transport links was one of the problems Tauranga City Council has been grappling with as it worked to prepare a plan for how the city would cope with the continued growth expected in the next decade.

Housing was another big issue. By 2013 Tauranga had 50,085 houses. Since then another 5233 have been built.

Statistics New Zealand's figures last week also showed a rise in the median age of Tauranga residents to 41.2 from 40.6 in 2013.

That put the city right between the "youngest" area - Hamilton, 31.6 - and the "oldest" - Thames-Coromandel, 52.8 years.

Tauranga has been growing by an average of 2.3 per cent, or 2810 people, each year since 2013, when Tauranga's population was 119,800.

The Western Bay district has also grown, hitting an estimated population of 49,000, up from 45,500 in 2013.


Population growth in major centres from 2013 to 2017

Auckland: 1,493,200 to 1,657,200
Hamilton: 150,200 to 165,400
Tauranga: 119,800 to 131,500
Wellington: 197,500 to 212,700
Christchurch: 356,700 to 381,500
Dunedin: 123,500 to 128,800

Brand new and born here

Rebecca and Luke Gallagher moved to Tauranga about four years ago after realising they were not going to be able to afford a home in Auckland.

They bought their first home in Welcome Bay. Later they moved to Bethlehem and married. In July they welcomed their first child, daughter Molly, at Tauranga Hospital.

Having family nearby, the weather and the lifestyle were all big drivers for the move, but their decision to settle down and start a family came down to safety.

"We still wanted to live in a place where - as Luke puts it - kids are happy to walk or run to school," Rebecca said.

She was looking forward to Molly growing up to enjoy "everything Tauranga has to offer" - from parks and arts to the city's growing diversity.

Moving around the world

It took six months for Patryk Szulakowski to convince his wife Nicole to move their family of four across the world.

The couple - she is German, he is Polish - were living in England when Patryk, a medical consultant, was approached by a headhunter for a job at Tauranga Hospital in his speciality area, sleep medicine.

He had always wanted to see New Zealand but she was not sure about moving so far from family and friends. When the job was still available six months later she relented.

They arrived in April with their two daughters, aged 8 and 10, and have had ups and downs in the process of settling into life in Tauranga.

On one hand, not knowing anyone had been tough and finding a house or section to buy was proving difficult.

On the other, Tauranga was like no city the outdoorsy family had ever lived in - less brick and concrete and more coasts and lush bush.

Steph and Ryno Oberholzer moved from Auckland in February. Photo/supplied
Steph and Ryno Oberholzer moved from Auckland in February. Photo/supplied

Swapping Auckland for Papamoa

A house 450m from the beach and just a 30-minute commute: two things that would have been pipedreams in Auckland for new Papamoa residents Steph and Ryno Oberholzer.

They moved to Tauranga in February, mainly to be closer to Ryno's daughter, Steph said.

They found the job market in Tauranga "saturated" with applicants but they both found work within weeks of arriving - she in childcare and Ryno as a building apprentice.

"Most jobs had heaps and heaps of people applying."

They were enjoying Tauranga's small scale and being able to get to almost anywhere in the city - including work - within half an hour.

Steph said they were looking forward to their first full summer in the Bay.