About 135,000 people now live in Tauranga and, with 13,000 more people residing here than five years ago, the pressure on the city's infrastructure is continually tested.
Yesterday, the Bay of Plenty Times reported new data from Statistics New Zealand that estimated Tauranga's population had reached 135,000 in 2018, up from 121,800 in 2014.
In the past year, Stats NZ estimated the city's population had grown by about 600 naturally, while about 2900 people migrated to the city.
Tauranga mayor Greg Brownless said the influx of people put pressure on the city's infrastructure, mainly in the transport and housing sectors.
"It's getting harder to get around the city, but this pressure everywhere adds to our case for more Government support in terms of roading resources," he said.
SmartGrowth's independent chairman, Bill Wasley, said the increasing population numbers were in line with the 30-year SmartGrowth forecast completed after the 2018 Census.
He said the amenities Tauranga provided, as well as its location within the "upper North Island golden triangle" meant the city was a popular place to relocate to, especially by Aucklanders.
"People tell us that they like the coastal environment, the climate, ease of doing business here and the schools having a very good reputation.
"In recently released Motu research, Tauranga scored highly in terms of its quality of life reinforcing many of the reasons people wish to move here," he said.
Wasley said there were many benefits of an increasing population including greater business opportunities, a wider variety of services and opportunities for local people. An example was the current development of the new Waikato University Campus.
He also said the increase in domestic flights allowed for a more connected Western Bay sub-region where people could easily live locally but do work elsewhere.
However, Wasley said there were challenges facing the city through the continuing population increase.
He said some of the biggest challenges were dealing with the pressure on infrastructure, particularly with transport relating to the movement of both freight and people.
Wasley said the SmartGrowth partnership, collectively and through their individual council responsibilities, were responding to address "acute roading issues".
A multimodal approach was being taken to provide a range of transport options like increased public transport, biking and walking opportunities in the short and long term.
"The population increase puts all sorts of pressures on various aspects of what makes Tauranga and the wider Western Bay of Plenty so attractive for people - like the environment and housing, particularly affordable housing," Wasley said.
He said the provision for housing through intensification and greenfields land and a range of housing types was also a response to an increasing population.
BABIES OF THE BAY OF PLENTY
Tash Vlietstra was born at Tauranga Hospital 24 years ago and her two children were also born at the same hospital.
Her daughter Rubi was born two years ago and Vliestra gave birth to baby Beau in May this year.
Beau was one of hundreds of babies born in the city this year adding to the natural increase of the city's population.
Vlietstra, her partner and their children live in a new home they built in The Lakes, which she said was the perfect place to bring up a family.
The family made the most of local parks, community events and often made trips to local beaches.
"It's such a beautiful place to live and it's so safe," Vlietstra said.
After living in the area for more than 20 years, the early childhood education teacher said she had noticed the city continually getting busier but felt as though Tauranga was accommodating for the increase well.
The opening of Tauranga Crossing meant the family rarely needed to go any further than Tauriko to go shopping, get to work or to take the children to preschool.
Bethlehem Birthing Centre chief executive Chloe Wright said the number of births at the centre had increased year on year.
In 2015 there were 260 births, 330 in 2016, and this year to date the centre had already had 373 babies born.
"We have a strong demand and we have the capacity to look after the growing population with primary birthing," Wright said.
She said as the community grew so did the amount of support the birthing centre could provide for families and there was an increase in demand for the centre's programmes including antenatal classes.
"Many of the newcomers to Tauranga are young families, who don't know anyone in the area and need support.
"One of our goals at the birthing centre is to connect mums with each other so they can form strong bonds and friendships and support one another - providing that village to help raise a child."
MOVED FROM AUCKLAND
Georgia Baker is one of thousands who has made the move to the Bay of Plenty this year.
The 26-year-old moved to Mount Maunganui in May this year after spending time living in Auckland, Edinburgh and London.
Baker said she began spending a lot of time in Mount Maunganui last year when she would make trips down to see her partner.
"I got to experience what the beautiful Bay had to offer and when the opportunity arose to move down I took it," she said.
Baker works as a marketing and sales assistant for a local company, Modern Office, and said she enjoyed being exposed to other local companies.
In her spare time, Baker said she often went up Mauao, liked to set the long-line with her partner and loved checking out local cafes and restaurants in the area.