Snapshot of the Western Bay
"Te Kaunihera a rohe mai i nga Kuri-a-Wharei ki Otamarakau ki te Uru"
The Western Bay of Plenty stretches from Waihi Beach to Otamarakau, covering 212,000 hectares of coastal, rural and urban areas.
It is a growth area of New Zealand, with a population of about 50,000 people. The main urban/village centres are Waihi Beach, Katikati, Omokoroa, Te Puna, Te Puke and Maketu.
Rural settlements to the east are Paengaroa, Pongakawa and Pukehina and the small but growing harbourside settlements in the west are Kauri Point, Tanners Point, Ongare, Tuapiro and Athenree.
To the west is the rugged bush-covered Kaimai Range from which many streams flow to the coastal lowlands and into the estuaries and mudflats of the Tauranga Harbour.
The Kaituna River drains the lakes of Rotorua and Rotoiti into the Maketu Estuary and out to sea, while smaller streams drain the eastern district into the Waihi Estuary.
Matakana Island forms a natural barrier between Tauranga Harbour and the Pacific Ocean.
The Western Bay of Plenty has a long history of occupation by Māori.
The western area of the District (Tauranga Moana) has been occupied for centuries by the iwi of Ngati Ranginui from the Takitimu waka and Ngai Te Rangi and Ngati Pukenga of Mataatua waka. Iwi, with whakapapa connections to Te Arawa waka, inhabit much of the eastern area of the District and south to Rotorua as they have done since the Te Arawa waka landed in Maketu in the 1300’s.
Traders and missionaries were among the first European settlers who developed communities at Maketu and Tauranga. George Vesey Stewart founded Ulster settlements at both Katikati in 1875 and Te Puke in 1880.
Tauranga, Te Puke and Katikati formed the nucleus for subsequent expansion of European pastoral farms. Te Puke and Katikati have grown steadily over the years.
Roads linking settlements and farming areas were developed by local highway boards initially and later by the Tauranga County Council. Pockets of urban development have grown around the shores of Tauranga Harbour, usually where there is boat access to the harbour. There are also small settlements on the Pacific Coast north and south of Tauranga Harbour.
These settlements include:
- Island View
- Pio Beach
- Tanners Point
- Tuapiro Point
- Ongare Point
- Te Kauri Village
- Plummers Point
- Te Puna West
- Waihi Beach is on the Pacific Coast north of Katikati
- Maketu is on the Pacific Coast south of Te Puke
- Little Waihi is next door to Maketu on the western edge of the Waihi Estuary
- Pukehina Beach is opposite Little Waihi estuary and is a popular holiday place as well as a permanent residential settlement.
The Western Bay is one of the country's fastest growing provincial districts in New Zealand. The 2013 Census figures show Western Bay of Plenty District had a resident population count of 43,692 – an increase of 4.5 percent (1869 people) since the 2006 Census.
However the population is now estimated to have swelled to approximately 50,100 (awaiting Census 2017 confirmation) as many people from other cities and regions choose the Western Bay as a place to settle for family, retirement and business purposes.
This figures below highlight population growth across the Western Bay in the past 18 years:
Western Bay of Plenty District Census Population:
2016: 47,800 (estimate)
2017: 49,000 (estimate)
2018: 50,100 (estimate)
Map of our District
Select this link to view an interactive story map of our District. This map will help you find what the District has to offer including walks and places to visit.