Overseas buyers spent $1.01 billion in six months on commercial properties in New Zealand, staking their claim on supermarkets, shopping malls, hotels and office space.
Australians spent and sold the most at $844 million and $595 million respectively in the second half of last year, according to the latest report from international real estate company CBRE.
The overall spend from overseas was lower than the same period in 2014 when $3.15 billion was injected.
England, the United States and China were the next most active in the overseas investment market.
Foreign investors sold $1.15 billion worth of property in the same period. Private overseas investors made nine purchases, worth $144 million in total.
The highest price paid by a private overseas investor was $28 million for 10 Commerce St in downtown Auckland by a Chinese developer.
The site had resource consent for a 48-storey hotel and apartments.
The next highest was $25.4 million for X Gallery by a Chinese investor.
The gallery was in the former New Art Gallery on the corner of Lorne and Wellesley St, in central Auckland.
Other big buys included the Lumley House office block at 7 City Rd, in Grafton, Auckland, bought for $21.6 million by a Japanese investor, and 291 East Tamaki Rd, Otara - the site of transtasman food and coffee maker Cerebos Greggs - for which an Australian investor paid $17.5 million.
Overseas businesses bought $852 million worth of property in four transactions. These included two Westfield shopping centres - Queensgate in Lower Hutt and Chartwell in Hamilton - sold for a total of $445 million by Scentre Group.
The Antipodean Supermarkets portfolio of 19 retail properties sold for $287 million.
Both the Westfields and the Antipodean Supermarkets were bought by Diversified NZ Property Fund, a fund managed by Stride Property.
Colliers real estate agency said the sale of the Westfields, combined with the sale of Westfield Glenfield to another company, was the largest transaction in the agency's history. The Antipodean sales two months earlier was its previous largest deal.
Colliers New Zealand chief executive Mark Synnott expected overseas investment this year to be similar if not stronger than last year due to the drop in the official cash rate.
The agency had just completed an $80 million onshore sale and a $60 million offshore sale, but Mr Synnott said most sales were still onshore.
Wellington's Museum Art Hotel, across from Te Papa national museum, was bought from art collector Chris Parkin for $28.5 million by Sydney-based Amalgamated Holdings.
The transformed hotel will become New Zealand's first hotel to operate under the company's upmarket QT brand.
Amalgamated's other New Zealand operations include the Rydges Hotels and Event Cinemas.
The last buy was three office buildings bought for $91.3 million all up by Morgan Stanley, a US multinational financial services corporation.
Nor is it any surprise that Australia is the dominant investor.
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Overall, in the second half of 2015, 136 commercial properties changed ownership, with transactions totalling $2.831 billion, the New Zealand Investment MarketView report found. This compares with $4.552 billion in the same part of 2014.
There was a strong increase in the volume of sales. Auckland led the growth with 99 sales totalling $1.72 billion, the largest being the Westfield Glenfield at $104 million. Wellington also exceeded its previous result, with 17 transactions totalling $682 million. Christchurch had 14 sales, totalling $212 million.
The retail sector saw the most and highest value of transactions, with almost $1.1 billion worth of sales. Retail property made up 39 per cent of sales volume, with office sales representing 30 per cent and industrial contributing 17 per cent of sales.
Zoltan Moricz, senior director of research for CBRE New Zealand, said the median transaction price for 2014 was $10.6 million. In 2015 it had shot up to $11.2 million, he said, "which displays a clear growth trend in the period following 2008".
Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith said the $1 billion of overseas investment represented a total of $8 billion worth of commercial property bought and sold in NZ a year and was a sign of confidence.
"Nor is it any surprise that Australia is the dominant investor in commercial property in New Zealand. Most of our trading banks and many of our supermarkets and other commercial entities are Australasian enterprises."
Dr Smith said many of the larger companies investing in NZ such as ANZ and Progressive Enterprises also created new job opportunities.
Labour's housing spokesman Phil Twyford said while Labour welcomed foreign investment, with the exception of the residential housing market, he did not believe property investment supported new jobs and the development of new business as much as other investments.
"We welcome foreign investment in other parts of the economy. I think commercial property is a completely different ball game."