Tauranga home owners are renting out their family homes over Christmas and New Year to cover their rates and bills.
The number of Papamoa and Mount Maunganui home owners enquiring about offering their homes as short-term holiday rentals has increased 10-fold since last year at one popular company.
Leslie Preston, founder and general manager of Bachcare, said owners of permanent homes were renting them out to fund their own travels or cover their rates and basic expenses.
Last September the company took inquiries from four property owners in Papamoa and Mount Maunganui about renting their houses out - this year there have already been 45 in just the first two weeks of the month.
The huge increase was driven by new home owners in the area who had recently purchased as a semi-investment, as well as existing holiday homes owners who had tried to sell but could get the price they wanted.
"So they have decided to keep the holiday home and rent it out to help defray the costs."
A luxury five-bedroom Mount Maunganui holiday home commands $800 a night over the peak summer holiday period.
But even basic homes are commanding big bucks. A "tidy four-bedroom traditional family home" two streets back from the beach in Bayfair is up for rent at $250 a night.
In Papamoa, ordinary family homes can command up to $300 a night during peak season.
Ms Preston said demand was strong for holiday homes in Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Papamoa - with bookings up 20 per cent on last year.
"Papamoa and the Mount are always popular with groups of friends, but over the last few years, we have seen the increase in bookings from families and extended families.
"We have noticed an increase in the in smaller groups, such as couples, that are now starting to use holiday homes instead of more traditional accommodation options. This has been most noticeable in places like Tauranga."
International tourists had started to return to smaller holiday hotspots like the Bay of Plenty, Ms Preston said.
"They are willing to pay higher nightly rates in return for a unique experience. The international visitor wants an authentic kiwi experience and they are finding holiday homes and holiday apartments a great way to experience the local area."
Quirky options, such as a converted boat shed on the Tauranga waterfront, were popular.
Jude Devantier of Eves Realty said she had three holiday homes on the books, which she let out to people for three weeks to three months.