Today’s photos come from a trip I made to Tauranga for Labour Weekend last year. Tauranga’s one of our larger cities, with a population of around 123,500 people (having grown pretty quickly in the last couple of decades – in 1996, its population was 84,200).
Mount Maunganui remains a cracker of a beach. Golden sand, a bit of surf, the Mount itself anchoring one end of the beachfront… magic. The sand carries on more or less unbroken for 30 kilometres, well past the edge of developed Tauranga. This isn’t a great photo, but I do like that it shows a range of modes: walking and cycling are popular, à la Tamaki Drive, and of course the cars are there too.
Visitor accommodation is the main land use close to the Mount itself. There’s a range of hotels, motels, camping grounds and holiday apartments. Some of the apartment buildings are ten stories or more – more intensely developed than any Auckland beach. The highest value land use occurs on the highest value land, as it should do – something which our planning rules don’t permit on Auckland beaches.
Over to the Tauranga side of the city now. The Strand runs along the waterfront, but seemed fairly dull and gloomy when I was there – and it wasn’t just the weather. The street was actually closed off to vehicles for the holiday weekend – think something similar to the Playing in the Streets event run in Auckland in 2012, with games for kids, books and beanbags and so on. Unfortunately, the place was still quite dead, especially by contrast with Mount Maunganui. The Bay of Plenty Times suggests that the Tauranga CBD has been struggling for a while, and there are some complex issues to resolve there….
This is a little further down The Strand. Knit bombing can’t hide the issue of those railway lines being pretty terrible in terms of severance from the waterfront. They’re coming from the port, so playing a vital role in terms of freight, but pedestrian amenity suffers as a result. Of course, the car park doesn’t help either.
Still on The Strand. There are a few people around, and some people walking on the street, but I wouldn’t call it a lively atmosphere. The playground to the left of the shot is an interesting addition, though – that area used to be carparking, and the Council has removed quite a bit of that in favour of the playground and an extended grass area. Getting rid of waterfront parking is something we should all encourage – it’s a waste of high-value land. Hopefully this and other Council initiatives will catalyse development in the area, and there’ll be a bit more going on next time I’m back there!