Search statistics show Chinese are keen to buy Kiwi homes ... and they don't have to be in the big cities.
New Zealand is on a list of the top 10 most searched for countries by Chinese house-hunters, figures compiled from China's largest property search engine reveal.
The figures show Chinese buyers' rapidly growing interest in our housing market - the country was not in the top 50 in 2012.
And it's not just Auckland and Wellington on the shopping list any more, buyers are increasingly looking in the smaller regions.
While attracting a much smaller number of buyers, Kerikeri, Nelson, Kaiteriteri, Paihia and Gisborne are rapidly growing areas of interest.
The information was provided to the Herald by Juwai.com, the world's biggest Chinese property website, showcasing more than 2.2 million property listings from 53 countries.
Many large real estate agencies, including Ray White and LJ Hooker, list with the company.
The site is visited daily by thousands of property buyers from China, as well as Chinese communities in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
Interest in New Zealand property on the site grew by 89 per cent last year.
It was at number nine on a list of the top 10, ahead of Spain. The United States was top.
"It used to be that New Zealand was unknown in China. It didn't even appear in the top 20 destinations," said Juwai co-chief executive Andrew Taylor.
"But the Chinese have begun to learn about it. The New Zealand brand in China is high quality, natural and attractive."
Auckland was the most searched-for city in New Zealand, followed by Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington and Taupo.
The national president of the NZ Chinese Association, Virginia Chong, said the organisation had just opened its 14th branch, in Nelson, home to a growing Chinese community.
The relationship between China and New Zealand was growing economically and politically so the Chinese public were learning more about the country, she said.
"All they've known is apartments, apartments, apartments, and the smog, traffic problems. Compared to other countries, I think they can slot in quite easily here, with minimal amount of discrimination ... people see them as just being one of us now."
Auckland real estate agency Property Asia Ltd offers groups of Chinese buyers guided tours of properties.
Andrew Taylor said Chinese buyers were "seldom short-term speculators".
Parents often bought homes for their children to live in while studying, but the property served as a long-term investment.
Chinese house hunt
According to Juwai.com, China's largest property search engine
Most searched for countries
• United States
• United Kingdom
• New Zealand
Read more about how NZ houses are being sold to Chinese residents here: tinyurl.com/nzhchinesebuyers