House-price growth has eased in the main centres — but the regions are enjoying a property resurgence.

Asking prices have fallen or remained stable in Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury, Waikato and Otago, realestate.co.nz data shows.

January asking prices dipped in the Auckland region compared with December (down 4 per cent to $943,543). Falls were also registered in Christchurch (down 2.1 per cent) and Otago (1.3). In the Waikato and Wellington region asking prices were relatively stable (up 0.5 per cent)," realestate.co.nz spokeswoman Vanessa Taylor said.

"Total housing stock was up in these five main regions compared to the same time a year ago, indicating that many properties are not selling as quickly."

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"By contrast Northland, Central North Island, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa and Marlborough were a hive of activity in January," she said.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand chief executive Bindi Norwell said: "The rate of price growth in the larger centres has been slowing, but in the regions and provinces we're seeing much stronger rates of growth.

"For example, for the 2017 year, Auckland's price growth increased by 2.2 per cent whereas Hawke's Bay saw an increase of 17.3 per cent and Northland saw an increase of 16.2 per cent."

Big cities usually experienced price rises first, followed by the regions and provinces over time.

That was good news for first-time buyers who had been struggling to keep up with the growing price of real estate.

Gisborne led the country with a 19.5 per cent rise in January asking prices compared with December, to reach an average of $344,082.

That was followed by the Wairarapa, up 10.3 per cent with an average asking price of $473,850.

Northland and Hawke's Bay were very similar, with Northland's asking price up 8.6 per cent to $609,382 and Hawke's Bay up 8.2 per cent to $492,740.