A desire to leave the hustle and bustle of city life behind and live the Kiwi dream is attracting buyers out of the main centres and into lifestyle properties.

This year has seen increased interest in the lifestyle property market with latest Real Estate Institute figures showing a 17.4 per cent lift in sales in the three months to May 2015 compared to the three months to May 2014. Ten out of the 14 regions recorded an increase from last year.

Bayleys rural country sales manager Simon Anderson said the desire for space and privacy was attracting buyers. "It's to live the Kiwi dream and produce things to eat, to put a fence up, to have privacy and to give our children a real experience of animals and the environment.

"The hustle and bustle of the town and the speed of life now is getting to people and some have just had enough.

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"There is nothing better than driving home after a day at work to your own farmlet."

Areas close to the main centres were particularly popular, giving people the chance to live rurally but still have the option to head into the city for the day.

Lifestyle blocks around Auckland have been selling well with properties on average taking 44 days to sell, followed closely by Christchurch (51 days).

Anderson said since the earthquakes properties on the outskirts of Christchurch have been selling well and anything around Hamilton, Auckland and Tauranga remained popular.

"The people who buy lifestyle blocks are from no consistent demographic. We have professional people buying, we have first-time home buyers, we have retiring farmers and, in the upper North Island, we have Aucklanders moving out of the big city," he said.

The increase in interest has seen a boost to prices with the national median price for lifestyle blocks up $32,500 to $560,000 from the three months to May 2014 to the three months to May 2015 - a new record national median price. Commenting on the lifestyle property market, REINZ rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said: "The three-month period ending May 2015 was notable for the strong uplift in sales volumes and an incremental increase in prices.

"A number of regions throughout the North Island featured with solid increases recorded in the Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Taranaki, Manawatu/Wanganui and Hawke's Bay regions."

For all farm types combined, there were 62 fewer sales - an 11 per cent drop - for the three months ending May 2015 compared to the three months ending May 2014.

However, prices remained steady with the median price per hectare of $28,563 for the three months in 2015 comparing favourably to the $25,018 for the same three months in 2014.

However, from April to May this year the median price fell 0.4 per cent. "While sales volumes for the three months ending May 2015 eased compared to the previous period, activity across most categories remained surprisingly strong, with the main limitation being the shortage of available properties," Peacocke said.

- Emma Butt is an Auckland-based journalist.