Chinese buyers' interest in New Zealand properties rose dramatically last month and Auckland is by far the most popular city.

Sam Yin, chief executive of real estate portal Hougarden.com, said traffic was up 22 per cent last month, following a 13.7 per cent increase in February.

New Zealand remained extremely popular with Chinese property browsers who are mainly from Beijing and mostly browsing Auckland residential properties, the data showed.

Auckland was most popular with China-based searchers, followed by Christchurch, Hamilton, Wellington, Tauranga, Dunedin, Lower Hutt, Palmerston North, Queenstown and Rotorua, the Hougarden analysis showed.

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The largest number of searchers live in Beijing, followed by Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Tainjin.

Hougarden describes itself as the number one New Zealand property portal for Chinese buyers and it reported 3,125,317 page views last month, up 13.84 per cent between February and March, 106,908 unique visitors last month (up 22.33 per cent) and 227,981 total visits (up 19.62 per cent)

The majority, or 75.24 per cent of the Chinese, are searching under the residential category, followed by rental (10.64 per cent ), rural (7.96 per cent), business for sale (2.74 per cent) and commercial (3.42 per cent).

The data emerged after Land Information New Zealand Minister Louise Upston said this week that the first official Government information on foreign buyers would be released this month.

That follows a law change in October aimed at tightening up the regime for foreigners buying residential properties in New Zealand.

Overseas non-resident buyers must now provide their IRD number and also have a New Zealand bank account.

Yin said the big rise in interest from China was due to a combination of factors.

"March is the first full month after the summer break with students returning to tertiary education and local Chinese people coming home after visiting family in China over Chinese New Year," he said.

Affluent Chinese having an enjoyable holiday in New Zealand could also be driving the numbers, Yin said.

"The large increase in unique users may also include relative newbies who are making their first tentative exploration of New Zealand real estate. For this reason, they may view fewer pages than dedicated searchers. However, there is no doubt that the overall increase in visits and page views is very significant news for real estate professionals and those looking to sell," Yin said.

In terms of pricing categories, the majority or 21.10 per cent of searchers looked for properties in the $400,000 to $600,000 category followed by $600,000 to $800,000, then $800,000 to $1 million.

Top 15 Auckland suburbs for Chinese online property searches:

Auckland City

Albany

Remuera

Epsom

Takapuna

Browns Bay

Glenfield

Mount Eden

Milford

Dannemora

Mairangi Bay

Howick

Castor Bay

Forrest Hill

New Lynn

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