Tauranga, the bubbly "Western Bay" city in the Bay of Plenty, straddles a sandy peninsula flanked by a sheltered harbor on one side and a fantastic surf beach on the other. Tauranga’s sandy beaches and weatherboard edifices give way to a veritable fruit bowl; the surrounding landscape is hung with kiwi fruit vines and filled with avocado orchards and vineyards. The city holds enormous appeal for young families and professionals alike. Its scenic beauty and laidback lifestyle belie a thriving business, international trade, culture, fashion and horticultural science hub. The Port of Tauranga is New Zealand's largest port in terms of gross export tonnage. Tauranga gazes across the bay at Mount Maunganui, an extinct volcano. The white coastal surf beaches of "The Mount" are a huge draw during summer, when tourists flock in droves to the city. Tauranga’s cultural calendar may be more subdued than other major New Zealand cities, but its local cultural scene boasts a growing number of galleries and music events. During the long sub-tropical summer evenings, Tauranga’s liberal scattering of beachside cafes, bars and restaurants will more than satisfy the socialite in you. Its unhurried pace, uncongested streets, affordable cost of living and healthy coastal lifestyle make Tauranga an enviable destination, both short- and long-term. What is special or unique about your city? The region’s temperate climate, hours of sunshine and safe, white beaches are a draw for holidaymakers year round. Tauranga and the beachside town of Mt. Maunganui are dominated by the harbor and "the Mount", a 232-meter-high extinct volcano. The city’s population is 115,000 and is growing rapidly because of its broad appeal as a beautiful, exciting place to live. What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city? Tauranga is a water-lovers' delight due to its attractive beaches, safe harbor and natural hot-water pools. Boating, fishing, swimming and other outdoor recreational activities dominate. The residential area is surrounded by horticultural and farming land, yet 44 per cent of New Zealand’s population lies within just 200 kilometers of Tauranga. A strong café culture exists in the area, alongside outdoor recreational activities such as tramping, hunting, fly fishing, jet boating and yachting, which feature strongly. Are these impressions likely to change? While the region will continue to grow in population and popularity, the general impression of the place is unlikely to change. Only limited areas of high-rise development are allowed and access to beaches and greenbelt areas will remain. What is the local language? English is the official language of New Zealand, however, you will also hear Maori spoken, along with other languages from the South Pacific islands and Asia. Here are a few Maori words that may be fun to learn as well as help you while you are here: English = Maori hello = kia ora good bye = haere ra please = koa thank you = kia ora rawa atu good = ka pai bad = ka kino help = äwhinatia yes = äe no = käo food = kai water = wai How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language? It would be difficult to live in New Zealand without speaking English, as most New Zealanders only speak English or Maori. There is a wide variety of English language schools throughout New Zealand. What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city? The main thing to remember is to respect the many diverse cultures in New Zealand. To avoid offending, please take note of the following: Casual dress is acceptable and usually preferred in most situations. Do not use the "V for victory" sign as it is considered offensive. Always try to be on time for appointments as punctuality is considered good manners. Afternoon tea is between 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. Early evening tea is between 6:00 - 8:00 p.m., and a larger meal is served. Supper is a snack served much later in the evening. Tipping is uncommon. Cover your mouth if you must yawn, do not chew gum or use toothpicks and please do not spit in public. Ask permission before you attempt to photograph someone. When meeting someone or departing, use a firm handshake and maintain good eye contact. Avoid confusing or comparing New Zealand to Australia, as they are two distinct countries. Remember that New Zealand has strict smoking rules, and smoking is not permitted in any public building or public transport. Smoking is not permitted in any bars, cafes or restaurants. Smoking areas may be provided outside. How might the local weather affect my daily life? Tauranga has a temperate/sub-tropical climate with mild temperatures and an average rainfall of about 1,350 millimeters a year. The rain falls in periodic heavy downfalls and thunder is common. Even so, the number of hours of sunshine in the region is among the highest in the country. New Zealand seasons are reverse to those in the Northern Hemisphere. Our warmest months are December, January and February and the coldest are June, July and August. Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people? Tauranga District Council covers the main business and residential center of Tauranga and the beachside townships of Mt. Maunganui and Papapmoa. A second council, the Western Bay District Council, governs the rural areas outside the suburbs. A casual, low-stress lifestyle is the key to the area’s popularity. An increase in population and business has created traffic congestion, though, and is being addressed.