Can't afford to buy a house in Auckland and think you're running out of options? Ruled out Tauranga and Hamilton? Where are the next northern property hotspots?

Seven areas north of Auckland have been pinpointed as the most searched, thanks to internet search analytics - and popular Mangawhai and Omaha don't even feature.

The seven are a little further afield, perhaps because the prices are not as high as seen in the more traditional holiday or retiree zones.

Brendon Skipper, chief executive of realestate.co.nz - owned by the Real Estate Institute of NZ and the country's five largest agencies, studied online property-search activity and says Aucklanders could well be those searching this far north of the city.

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"It appears Aucklanders still want to stay in relatively close proximity to our biggest city, but in terms of affordability they are forced to move even further afield, or they are making lifestyle changes," he said.

"Hot spots in Northland are Waipu, Whangarei Heads, Paihia and Tutukaka which all have a significant increase in users looking in those areas. Whangarei Heads is the suburb to watch, with online engagement up by 42 per cent on same time last year. In the Far North, Kerikeri surrounds, Paihia and the Karikari Peninsula were the most searched," he said.

Vanessa Taylor, realestate.co.nz head of marketing, said the searches were not just coming from Aucklanders.

Where are people looking for property?


"We measure engagement through the use of sessions - how many times a user goes back and visits that certain area. The increase we saw was from users across New Zealand and internationally looking in the Northland area," Taylor said.

Searches for properties in Hamilton and Tauranga had slowed compared with late last year, she said.

"That was when there was the first wave of activity of people looking outside of Auckland."

Skipper said Aucklanders appeared a little less interested in properties lately and Harcourts chief executive Chris Kennedy said winter was taking a toll.

It could be a turning point for Auckland, with prices now at an all-time high they're almost out of reach for the average income earner, with first home buyers the hardest hit.Brendon Skipper, chief executive of realestate.co.nz

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Auckland average asking prices rose again to another all-time high in June to $888,493, but searches on realestate.co.nz for properties in the city had fallen, Skipper said.

"It could be a turning point for Auckland, with prices now at an all-time high they're almost out of reach for the average income earner, with first home buyers the hardest hit," he said.

During June, the number of users searching Auckland houses "for sale" on realestate.co.nz fell by 19.33 per cent compared to the same time last year. The site also measures engagement and in June it fell by more than a third across the Auckland region when compared to June 2015.

"Nationally, the volume of traffic to our site is comparable across the country for this time of year, but it appears buyers are moving away from looking in the Auckland area in favour of other regions," Skipper said.

Data from the Real Estate Institute of NZ on national sales activity for June is due out any day and is the last major data set to be issued during each month.

I think you'll find a lot more movement to Whangarei as far as job opportunity goes. People talk Hamilton and Tauranga, but it's lack of jobs that's frustrating investors.

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Peter Thompson, Barfoot & Thompson managing director, named Waipu as particularly popular.

"I know three people who in the last month have bought property around Waipu, one for holidaying and another moving permanently. It's only one and a quarter hours from Auckland," he said.

The hotspots identified by realestate.co.nz would be popular for retirees seeking to leave Auckland but not be that far away, young people unable to buy in Auckland and holidaymakers "but for them, more so around the Tutukaka and coastline areas."

Prices had already risen in many of those hotspot areas, Thompson said.

Landlords were also looking at buying in the hotspots, he indicated.

"I think you'll find a lot more movement to Whangarei as far as job opportunity goes. People talk Hamilton and Tauranga, but it's lack of jobs that's frustrating investors," Thompson said.