Prior to the 1980s, much of the land in what is now Tauranga's biggest and fastest-growing suburb was still mostly rural, with well-preserved pā sites dating from the 1400s situated in the surrounding hills.

They still attract around 80,000 keen walkers and history buffs each year to Papamoa Hills Regional Park but on the ground below, once development began, there was no looking back.

These days Papamoa is a busy part of the Bay City, with thousands of relatively recently-arrived residents, many of whom drawn there by the appeal of 16km of white, sandy beach and the lure of the surf.

The Tauranga Eastern Link stretch of highway has brought easier access between the CBD and Papamoa, with further improvements still to come.

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The suburb is popular with retirees, many of whom have moved from other parts of the Bay of Plenty, and it's increasingly winning favour with former-Aucklanders looking for a quieter life. Papamoa is a family spot, too, with schools, early childcare facilities, parks and playgrounds.

Locals say that although the retail side of town was a bit slow getting started, Papamoa Plaza has now more than made up for the delay and these days there are lots of restaurants, bars and shops springing up throughout the suburb.

Leanne Brown, Mount Maunganui/Papamoa Ward councillor is a passionate advocate for this swiftly growing part of Tauranga.

"We're planning future development really carefully in order to get everything right. We know that it's very important to be strategic," she says.

Brown points out that current and projected growth includes areas such as Wairakei and Te Tumu, where a new town centre is planned and that there's a need to serve up to 15,000 potential new residents.

"We're already considering issues such as roading and storm water because we've got the chance to create something really good here."

Brown explains that there are plans to build up — as well as out, in future.

"We need to intensify in a way that suits everybody's needs, without covering more and more actual ground. It's important that everyone in Papamoa is still within easy reach of the beach."

She says the current community enjoys a real sense of connectedness, and generally good weather.

In terms of median property values, Papamoa's stock is just holding its own, up 0.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2108 and 0.7 per cent over the previous year, but at least one local estate agent warns against reading too much into this.

Greg Purcell from Ray White Papamoa says the endlessly upward trajectory of recent years simply couldn't be sustained. "To be honest, I'm glad that things have calmed down a bit and potential buyers have more choice. There are great plans for this suburb and I have really high hopes for its future."