Housing, infrastructure and climate change are at the forefront as the latest population projections for Rotorua reveal the city will hit 84,400 people in less than 30 years.
Projections obtained by the Rotorua Daily Post from Statistics New Zealand reveal Rotorua is predicted to increase by 10,000 people in the next 27 years.
Over that same period, the population of the wider Bay of Plenty region is expected to jump by 84,000 with the largest rise in Tauranga City, which is expected to soar 57,000 to reach 199,100.
In 2018, the Census estimated 74,800 people lived in Rotorua and the population was expected to increase by 4100 in the next couple of years.
Glenys Searancke moved to the city with her husband and an 8-month-old in 1966 when she was 24, and said it had "changed tremendously".
There were no suburban shopping centres back then, which meant the CBD was always busy.
"In the 70s and 80s, it was a bustling CBD ... the CBD isn't what I'd call bustling and busy any more."
She said it was not the tourism hotspot it used to be, something she said she began to notice before Covid.
She remembered busloads of tourists pulling into town, and how busy tourist shops were, specifically the corner of Amohau and Fenton Sts.
Social life was also different back then.
"Not a lot of us young, married women worked ... you didn't have to go to work, you could if you wanted to. You could live comfortably on one wage."
This meant they had an "intermittent" social life with the group of other young women - golf, dinner parties, coffee every Wednesday at someone's house.
"That's changed because we're changing lifestyle."
Playgrounds used to be full of children all the time, and Searancke remembered her children heading down alone for a few hours.
"You don't see a lot of children on the children's playgrounds, and we do have a lot of them."
She said young people left the city to go to university and never came back as the city didn't cater for a wide range of jobs, which she felt was a problem.
Searancke served on the Rotorua Lakes Council for 30 years, first elected in 1986.
Regarding the projections, she believed Rotorua would be able to handle the gradual growth "just fine".
Deputy Mayor Dave Donaldson said climate change challenges and how they encompass housing and infrastructure investment were this council's priorities.
He said strong growth had been continuing since 2016, and the projections underpinned all of the council's long-term planning.
"As the leaders of this city we want to see sustainable growth and development but how Rotorua grows is a challenge."
He said they couldn't do it alone and work was now under way with central government to find short, medium, and long-term solutions.
The positive of growth was that it gave confidence in business owners and investors, he said.
It's also meant more funding opportunities to support development in Rotorua with government partnerships giving the city more than $100 million.
It had meant funding to support residential development in the east side of Rotorua, and Donaldson said they expected more opportunities after the Government's recent announcement to support housing development.
This had also gone towards the Rotorua Lakefront Redevelopment, the Whakarewarewa Forest Project, Rotorua Museum and the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre.
"As a council, it's vital that we continuously review the long-term strategies that we have in place for the community to ensure that we are not taking an overly conservative approach to growth estimates."
Rotorua Economic Development interim chief executive Andrew Wilson said the numbers showed the district was heading in the right direction.
"It also tells us there is continued confidence that our district is a viable and attractive place to not only visit but to live, do business and invest."