About the Western Bay


​​​​​​"Te Kaunihera a rohe mai i nga Kuri-a-Wharei ki Otamarakau ki te Uru"

Looking out to Mayor Island
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 46,000 people. The main urban centres include 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 coastal 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.

Map of our District 

Select this link to view a downloadable map o​​f the District (PDF ​​​7.42MB) 

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. 


The Western Bay of Plenty has a long history of occupation by Maori.

The western area of the District (Tauranga Moana) was occupied by the iwi of Ngati Ranginui, Ngaiterangi, Ngati Pukenga from the waka Takitumu and Mataatua. Te Arawa descendants from the waka Te Arawa inhabited much of the eastern area of the District and south to Rotorua.

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.

These settlements include Athenree, Island View, Pio Beach, Tanners Point, Tuapiro Point, Tuapiro, Ongare Point, Te Kauri Village, Omokoroa, Plummers Point and Te Puna West. Little Waihi developed on the western edge of the Waihi Estuary. Along the Pacific Coast, Waihi Beach and Pukehina Beach have grown from being popular holiday places to more permanent settlements.


The Western Bay is one of the country's fastest growing rural areas. 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.

This figures below highlight population growth across the Western Bay over last three Census periods.

Western Bay of Plenty District Census Population:

2001: 37,995
2006: 41,826
2013: 43,​692

Page reviewed: 27 Dec 2018 9:59am