The city lies in the north-western corner of the Bay of Plenty, on the south-eastern edge of Tauranga Harbour. The city extends over an area of 168 square kilometres, and encompasses the communities of Bethlehem, on the south-western outskirts of the city; Greerton, on the southern outskirts of the city; Matua, west of the central city overlooking Tauranga Harbour; Maungatapu; Mount Maunganui, located north of the central city across the harbour facing the Bay of Plenty; Otumoetai; Papamoa, Tauranga's largest suburb, located on the Bay of Plenty; Tauranga City; Tauranga South; and Welcome Bay.
Tauranga is one of New Zealand's main centres for business, international trade, culture, fashion and horticultural science. The Port of Tauranga is New Zealand's largest port in terms of gross export tonnage and efficiency. Tauranga is one of New Zealand's fastest growing cities, with a 14 percent increase in population between the 2001 census and the 2006 census, though that number has slowed to 11% between the 2006 Census and the 2013 Census. This sudden population growth has made Tauranga New Zealand's 5th largest city.
The earliest known settlers were Māori who arrived at Tauranga in the Takitimu and the Mataatua waka in the 13th century.
At 9 am on Friday 23 June 1826 Herald was the first European ship to enter Tauranga Harbour. The Revd. Henry Williams conducted a Christian service at Otamataha Pā.
In December 1826 and again on March 1827 the Herald travelled to Tauranga from the Bay of Islands to obtain supplies of potatoes, pigs and flax. In 1835 a Church Missionary Society mission station was established at Tauranga by William Wade. Rev. Alfred N. Brown arrived at the CMS mission station in 1838. John Morgan also visited the mission in 1838.
Europeans trading in flax were active in the Bay of Plenty during the 1830s; some were transient, others married local women and settled permanently. The first permanent non-Maori trader was James Farrow, who travelled to Tauranga in 1829, obtaining flax fibre for Australian merchants in exchange for muskets and gunpowder. Farrow acquired a land area of 2,000 square metres (1⁄2 acre) on 10 January 1838 at Otumoetai Pā from the chiefs Tupaea, Tangimoana and Te Omanu, the earliest authenticated land purchase in the Bay of Plenty.
In 1840, a Catholic mission station was established. Bishop Pompallier was given land within the palisades of Otumoetai Pā for a church and a presbytery. The mission station closed in 1863 due to land wars in the Waikato district.
The Tauranga Campaign took place in and around Tauranga from 21 January to 21 June 1864, during the New Zealand Wars. The Battle of Gate Pa is the best known.
The battle of Gate Pā was an attack on the well fortified Pā and its Māori defenders on 29 April 1864 by British forces made up of approximately 300 men of the 43rd Regiment and a naval brigade. It was the single most devastating loss of life suffered by the British military in the whole of the Māori Wars. The British casualties were 31 dead including 10 officers and 80 wounded. The Māori defenders abandoned the Pā during the night with casualties estimated at 25 dead and an unknown number of wounded.
Under the Local Government (Tauranga City Council) Order 2003, Tauranga became legally a city for a second time, from 1 March 2004.
In August 2011, Tauranga received Ultra-Fast Broadband as part of the New Zealand Government's rollout.
Tauranga is located around a large harbour that extends along the western Bay of Plenty, and is protected by Matakana Island and the extinct volcano of Mauao (Mount Maunganui). Ngamuwahine River is located 19 kilometres southwest of Tauranga.
Situated along a faultline, Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty experience infrequent seismic activity, and there are a few Volcanoes around the area (mainly dormant). The most notable of these are White Island and Mauao, nicknamed "The Mount" by locals.
Tauranga is roughly the antipode of Jaén, Spain.
Tauranga has an oceanic or maritime temperate climate. It can also be described as subtropical due to high summer humidity.
During the summer months the population swells as holidaymakers descend on the city, especially along the popular white coastal surf beaches from Mount Maunganui to Papamoa.
Tauranga surpassed Dunedin in 2008 as the sixth largest city in New Zealand by urban area, and the ninth largest city by Territorial Authority area. It has now also surpassed the Napier-Hastings area to become the fifth largest city. The city was growing at a rate of 1.5% in 2008. Tauranga is set to surpass Dunedin in Territorial Area by the next Census in 2018.
In 1976, Tauranga was a medium-sized urban area, with a population of around 48,000, smaller than Napier or Invercargill. The completion of a harbour bridge in 1988 brought Tauranga and The Mount closer (they amalgamated in 1989) and promoted growth in both parts of the enlarged city. In 1996 Tauranga's population was 82,092 and by 2006 it had reached 103,635.
In 2006, 17.4% of the population was aged 65 or over, compared to 12.3% nationally. The city hosts five major head offices – Port of Tauranga, Zespri International, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd, Trustpower and Craigs Investment Partners (formerly, ABN AMRO Craigs). Tauranga is home to a large number of migrants, especially from the UK, attracted to the area by its climate and quality of life.
Tauranga is located in the administrative area of the Tauranga City Council. The council consists of ten councillors and a mayor (currently Greg Brownless), elected in 2016. The council has three wards (constituencies):
Council elections are held every three years and most recently in 2016.
Much of the countryside surrounding Tauranga is horticultural land, used to grow a wide range of fresh produce for both domestic consumption and export. There are many kiwifruit and avocados orchards as well as other crops.
The Port of Tauranga is New Zealand's largest export port, with brisk but seasonal shipping traffic. It is a regular stop for both container ships and luxury cruise liners.
Tauranga's main shopping mall is Bayfair, in Mount Maunganui. Most of the city's shopping centres are located in the suburbs. They include Fraser Cove, Bethlehem Town Centre, Palm Beach Plaza, Fashion Island, Bayfair Shopping Centre, Bay Central and Greerton Village.
The following companies have their head office in Tauranga:
A wide variety of faiths are practised, including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Taoism and Judaism. There are many denominations of Christianity including Pentecostal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Baptist and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).
The National Jazz Festival takes place in Tauranga every Easter, with dozens of live acts, great food and excellent wine.
New Year celebrations at the Mount in Mount Maunganui are one of Tauranga's main events, bringing people from all around the country.
In 2014 Tauranga City Council granted permission for an annual Sikh parade to celebrate Guru Gobind Singh's birthday. 2500 people took part in 2014, while in 2015, the number increased to 3500.
Tauranga has a large stadium complex in the Bayfair suburb, Baypark Stadium, rebuilt in 2001 after a similar complex closed in 1995. It hosts Speedway events during summer and rugby matches in winter.
Tauranga is also the home of football (soccer) club Tauranga City United who compete in the Lotto Sport Italia NRFL Division 2.
Tauranga is the home to two rowing clubs – Tauranga Rowing Club in Memorial Park and Bay of Plenty Coast Rowing Club at the picturesque Wairoa River. Both clubs have had successful NZ representation over the years.
Tauranga has an all weather outdoor athletics ground at Tauranga Domain.
Greater Tauranga is a very popular lifestyle and tourism destination. It features many natural attractions and scenery ranging from popular beaches and harbour environments to lush bush-clad mountains with waterfalls and lakes.
Cultural attractions include the Tauranga Art Gallery, which opened in October 2007 and showcases local, national and international exhibitions in a range of media. On the 17th Avenue, the "Historic Village on 17th", recreates a historic setting with original and replica buildings from early Tauranga housing arts and gift shops.
Aviation interests are well served with the Classic Flyers Museum and the Gyrate Flying Club where you can experience flying a modern gyroplane; the "motorbike of the sky".
Tauranga has many parks: one of the largest is Memorial Park, and others include, Yatton Park, Kulim Park, Fergusson Park and the large Tauranga Domain. The Te Puna Quarry Park has become a regional attraction, known for being converted from a disused quarry into a community park.
Due to the temperate climate, outdoor activities are very popular, including golf, tramping (hiking), mountain biking and white water rafting. The Bay of Plenty coastline has miles of golden sandy beaches, and watersports are very popular, including swimming, surfing, fishing, diving, kayaking and kitesurfing. Tourists also enjoy dolphin-watching on specially run boat trips.
The coastal suburb Papamoa and neighbouring town Mount Maunganui are some of the more affluent areas around Tauranga. The region's beaches attract swimmers, surfers, kayakers and kitesurfers throughout the year.
Tauranga has many outlying islands and reefs that make it a notable tourist destination point for travelling scuba divers and marine enthusiasts. Extensive marine life diversity is available to scuba divers all year round. Water temperatures range from 12 degrees Celsius in winter to 22–24 degrees Celsius in summer. Tauranga houses two professional dive instructor training centres, training NAUI, PADI and SSI dive leader systems.
Tauranga Hospital is the main public health hospital in the city.
Grace Hospital is Tauranga's only private specialist surgical hospital.
Tauranga City Council is currently responsible for approximately 530 km of roads, 700 km of footpaths, cycle ways and access ways.
Tauranga City Council also has a bit of work under way with their Transportation and Roads strategy. Their aim for the future to change current travel behaviour from a focus on private cars to more sustainable modes such as buses, cycling and walking.
Tauranga Airport is served by several airlines offering flights to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch as well as some regional destinations within New Zealand. Sunair is based in Tauranga, operating a fleet of light aircraft. Sunair operates from Tauranga Airport to Gisborne, Claris, Whitanga, Motiti Island and North Shore. In addition Barrier Air operates from Tauranga to Claris with a Partenavia P68.
Tauranga is located on the East Coast Main Trunk Railway.
Main transportation in the city is provided by the BayBus, with twelve routes servicing the city's population. Bay Hopper buses depart the central stops in Tauranga's CBD, Mount Maunganui and Greerton half-hourly, with the routes to Mount Maunganui, Papamoa, Greerton and Ohauiti experiencing an increase in frequency during peak hours.
The city is also a waypoint for bus travel between cities, with the Bay Hopper, Intercity, NakedBus and ManaBus performing nationwide commutes on a daily schedule.
Tauranga is home to the Bay of Plenty Tertiary Education Partnership, made up of Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi the Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology and the University of Waikato. Tauranga and the Partnership are planning a University campus of its own. Stage 1 is expected to be open in 2017, catering for 500 but with capacity for 700, which will cost $67.3 Million.
Tauranga's secondary schools are:
Christian educational in Tauranga include non-denominational Christian full primary and high school Bethlehem College, established in 1988; Tauranga Adventist School, a state integrated Year 1–8 Christian community school, established in 1974; and Catholic secondary school Aquinas College, established in 2003.
ACG Tauranga, the city's first fully private school, is set to open in January 2015, ultimately offering kindergarten-Year 13.
There is also a Rudolf Steiner School in Welcome Bay, catering for birth to 12-year olds.