Once covered by kiwifruit and other orchards, Bethlehem is now better known for its sprawling housing developments – with names like Bethlehem Heights, St Andrews, Mayfield and St Michael’s. Beyond the residential housing zone stretches Moffat Road and Cambridge Road, and the beginning of rural Tauranga – where there are more lifestyle-type developments such as Westridge Estate, Oakridge, and River Oaks Drive. Construction of a large new shopping centre in Bethlehem is well underway.
Amenities: the town with the biblical name has a highly regarded private school, Bethlehem College. Bethlehem Shopping Centre features a big Countdown supermarket, and one of the district’s best known garden centres, Décor Garden Centre & Café, is around the corner on Moffat Road. Close by, Mills Reef winery with its elegant art deco buildings is Bethlehem’s biggest attraction.
A peninsula with a harbour village twenty minutes north of Tauranga, Omokora is on the rise – especially with a new sewerage scheme on the way, that’s sparked significant housing development. Omokoroa has long been popular with retirees who enjoy the local golf course and easy access to the harbour for water activities. Many homes have excellent harbour views - gained for less than the premium paid in Tauranga or Mount Maunganui. Omokoroa has its own harbour beach and boat ramp, restaurant, the Western Bay Golf Club, a retirement village, and general store for essentials.
This settlement nearby is well known for its orchards and rural outlook. However there is a sought after area of residential housing at the end of the Te Puna peninsula, and some new housing developments. Homes are in the higher price range, some with good sized sections for keen gardeners. Te Puna is a 20 minute from all of Tauranga City’s amenities.
Katikati (‘catty-cat’) is a town with a population approaching 4,000 located 40 minutes drive north of Tauranga. It is known for more than 20 large murals downtown depicting the lives of early settlers. It is a horticultural centre producing kiwifruit, vegetables, and flowers. It has gone ahead rapidly as a town with affordable suburban homes – still within commuting distance of Tauranga city. Katikati also has huge appeal for lifestylers who can buy a house with livestock grazing, or other income options such kiwifruit or avocado. (The odd property combines two or more!) A ‘lifestyle block’ will set you back anything from $400,000 plus at the lower end of the market, to $1.5m and upwards – depending on the quality of the house, and whether the property has avocado trees or other crops.
Amenities: Katikati is known as an arts community, with the local group Katikati Open Air Art planning more murals, sculptures and festivals. Local attractions include Katikati Heritage Museum - with an attached café – which provides a fascinating look into the town’s history as an Irish settlement. The Katikati Bird Gardens – a sprawling bird sanctuary is another popular day out - with many species including white swans, pied shags, lorikeets and lovebirds. There’s a café and art displays.