Tale of two cities: Tauranga overtakes Dunedin to become country's fifth biggest city video


Tauranga takes over Dunedin as the 5th largest city in New Zealand.

Dunedin has been overtaken by Tauranga as the country's fifth largest city.

Population estimates by Statistics New Zealand reveal Tauranga has overtaken Dunedin's population of 127,000, clocking in at 128,200 people in 2016.

The southern city's population increased an estimated 6200 between 1996 and 2016, while booming Tauranga's population grew by 48,400 over the same period.

Mount Maunganui - it's the place to be.

Mount Maunganui - it's the place to be.

The move makes Tauranga the fifth largest city after Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Hamilton.

*Weather statistics for 2016 
*Dunedin: Return of the first city 
*Dunedin best city to live in

Tauranga deputy mayor, Kelvin Clout, moved his family from Auckland to Tauranga in 1990 and said he saw the growth coming.

Dunedin Railway Station.

Dunedin Railway Station.

"We have always known it would be a growth hot spot in due course," he said.

Reasons for that growth included the city's natural environment, moderate climate, and a strong economy anchored by the Port of Tauranga.

Not to mention the "Auckland effect" where people relocated from the country's largest city to "enjoy the lifestyle and easier access to property ownership".

Dunedin's Larnach Castle.

Dunedin's Larnach Castle.

On the flip side, the "influx of Aucklanders and others" has rapidly increased the cost of housing and rental, Clout added. 

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"Whilst this is fine for existing home owners it makes it very difficult for first-time home buyers and those on lower incomes."

Tauranga City Council, through its partnership with other councils and iwi had been successful in opening up new land for residential development, and was facilitating intensification within its' existing urban boundary.

That influx of people had also created traffic congestion and pressure on the environment, including water quality, flora and fauna, he said.

And while it was likely to be "many years before Tauranga finally overtook Hamilton", he did have some advice for the  latest city it leap frogged.

"I appreciate the contribution Dunedin has made to New Zealand's history, culture and economy.

"I suggest Dunedin continues to build on its own strengths and enjoys the lifestyle benefits of being New Zealand's sixth largest city."


A quick word association game. Tauranga: Summer, sun, sand, surf, bikinis, board shorts, booming, bridges, beauty, heat, holidays, outdoors, oldies.

Dunedin: Colonial, cold, concrete, castles, ice, isolated, indoors, students, sloshed, Scottish, rugby, rain, riots.

Where would you rather live? The only surprise about Tauranga overtaking Dunedin as New Zealand's fifth largest city is that it took so long. To me Dunedin is a city mired in its colonial history with only its university keeping it from being a small provincial backwater.

Tauranga, on the other hand, is booming - its population roaring ahead. Aucklanders can't get here fast enough. It's only a matter of time before it overtakes Hamilton and eventually  Wellington - even Christchurch.

Quite simply, Dunedin is the past, Tauranga is the future.

I moved here from Auckland with my family five years ago and haven't looked back. It has Auckland's natural beauty without the gridlock. Pretty much every suburb has water views.

Of course the gem in the crown is Mount Maunganui - one of the most strikingly beautiful areas in the world. Any visitor who climbs to the summit and takes in the view across to Matakana Island or east towards Whakatane is pretty much straight on the phone  to the real estate agent.

The lifestyle is amazing. I live on the other side of town from the beach, but can be in the waves after work within 10 minutes. Our street borders an estuary and if I told an Aucklander what we paid for our house they'd spit out their latte.

People joke that Tauranga is an enormous retirement village but hey, that's the silver economy and it's worth billions. Not to mention an endless supply of babysitters.

Of course as the population grows big-city hassles will arrive. But right now, I'm living in paradise.


Dunedin is no Tauranga; it has heritage, culture and a pulse.

It is a city where tens of thousands of young New Zealanders spend the best years of their lives studying, partying and watching couches mysteriously combust under the intensity of the Dunedin sun.

Tauranga is a retirement home - It's a satellite suburb of Auckland. It's a town which grew too fast.

And Dunedin is a city that knows a thing or two about the vagaries of booms.

The city's stunning heritage buildings came when Dunedin was at the forefront of an international goldrush, with the population trebling in three years.

By 1870, it was New Zealand's largest and wealthiest city.

Fast forward almost 150 years and it is now the sixth largest, but the city's inhabitants couldn't be happier.

And that's a fact.

Dunedin ranked as the best city to live in according to a recent biennial Quality of Life Survey.

I moved here with my pregnant wife in 2008, and we bought a 112-year-old villa overlooking Otago Harbour for $289,000.

We now have two boys, no mortgage, and a house that is fully insulated and double glazed.

In another life, I used to work in Auckland and do occasional business in Tauranga; but it's important to learn from your mistakes.

Unlike Tauranga's endless sprawl of Truman Show-style homes, mobility scooters and gridlocked traffic, everything in Dunedin is a handy five minutes away.

That includes top schools, tertiary institutions, cafes, restaurants, art gallery, museums, tourism attractions, wildlife (read: combustible couches) and the covered Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Everyone has heard of the 'Dunedin Sound', but no hipster ever name checks the 'Tauranga wheeze'.

And we also have beautiful beaches; ones that feature better surf, wildlife, but with less sagging skin and fewer drunks.

Tauranga is no tropical paradise, nor is Dunedin some bitter Scottish outpost.

If it is a tropical getaway a Dunedinite is after, well, they just get on a plane with the money saved from paying excessive amounts to Australian banks.

Tauranga may be four degrees warmer on average, but that's not much use if it rains all the time and your arthritis starts playing up.

And Mt Maunganui? In Dunedin we would call that a hill.


Population: 128,200

Average temperature: 15.9

Sunshine hours: 2250

Annual rainfall: 1250mm

Average house price: $672,000 (average value December 2016 Quotable Values)

Cost of a flat white $4.50


Population: 127,000

Average temperature: 11.8

Sunshine hours: 1824

Annual rainfall:  705mm

Average house price: $354,000 (QV)

Cost of a flat white $4


 - Sunday Star Times


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