Ok so I'm trying to narrow down the locations based on your post and you wanting to live near the beach. How near is near, as no matter where you are in Tauranga and surrounds you're never that far away from the beach ? We are Te Puna close to Te Puna Quarry Park but only 5 mins to our closest beach, 10 mins to Omokoroa Domain Beach and 20 mins to the Mount beaches on both sides......all calculated outside of peak times of course.
Places to avoid in my opinion - Merivale, Parkvale, Gate Pa, some parts of Welcome Bay, some parts of Judea and some parts of Brookfield.
For a retired couple, Bethlehem would be awesome for you as it has everything apart from a beach but you aren't far from a beach - maybe 10 mins max, otherwise maybe Bureta/Matua as there's a new beach going in at Kulim Park and there's already a really nice walkway on the prom there all the way up to Ferguson Park and beyond as it links up with other pathways going either direction.
The saying here is "West is best", so that puts you in Bethlehem/Tauriko, Otumoetai/Matua/Bureta, Te Puna, Whakamarama, Minden, Omokoroa.
Omokoroa would be good for you as its a Peninsula so surrounded by water and there are good walkways there. It is growing all the time. Many new houses going in there and getting busier which means amenities are getting better. We are there often as our boy plays for the local soccer team and there's a cool skate park there. Awesome safe place in the summer. There's a proposal on to revamp the whole of the Domain where the beach is because of the huge influx of people living there and the plans look great. There will also be a walkway/cycleway from Omokoroa Domain all the way to Tauranga 19km within the next couple years. It is being done in several stages and links up many little walks in the local area to make one huge recreational stretch.
EOI submitted Jan 2010. ITA Jan 2010. ITA submitted Apr 2010. RV approved June 2011. Passports stickered and back to us Aug 2011. Secured job Dec 2011. Arrived Mar 2012. PRV Mar 2014......now eligible for citizenship but at $1175 Yeah but Nah!!!