Fed-up Aucklanders are reinvigorating stagnant seaside property markets as they buy up retreats from city life.
Agents on Northland's Tutukaka coast, in the Bay of Islands and Coromandel Peninsula have reported strong interest from big-city residents keen to get more bang for their buck and a less-stressed lifestyle.
Peter Vink, manager of the Tutukaka Coast Ray White Allens office, said people liked the climate, the low earthquake risk and limited local development.
"A lot of interest is coming from people who are finding life in Auckland very busy and stressful, and are now in a position to spend extended weekends in the north.
"The trend is being encouraged by the fact that it's a relatively quick commute if they have to get back to Auckland in a hurry for unscheduled meetings and fast broadband means they can attend to business while they are up at the coast."
Several large homes have been built on the Tutukaka coast and a number of substantial residential projects are scheduled for next year. Ngunguru-based builder Ken Topp said 70 per cent of his projects were holiday homes, mostly for Aucklanders and people living overseas.
Whangarei District Council building compliance manager Bruce Rogers said there has been a noticeable pick-up in building works, mostly in new houses. Particularly strong growth had been noted in the Ruakaka to Waipu coastal area with complex and expensive houses being built close to the coastal areas.
"I speculate that a fair bit of Auckland money is coming into the coast now, based on our observations and mix of owners," he said.
No traffic, friendly people and a sub-tropical climate were just some reasons why Tutukaka living beat city life, Whangarei district councillor Jeroen Jongejans said.
"There's lots of reasons why we'll see more flow coming north, like the availability of land, quality of land and the infrastructure we've got on offer [such as] the harbour."
Driving around the town was also a breeze, the Tutukaka local said.
"If we have to wait five minutes, people get in a panic."
Aucklanders are also relocating to the Bay of Islands.
"Definitely there has been a little bit of an upsurge in Aucklanders coming here," said Harcourts Kerikeri co-owner Bill Easton.
Those who came were looking for better value and an escape from the city: "They are just glad to get out of the rat race."
Buyers with $550,000-$750,000 could secure a four-bedroom house with two or three bathrooms, on a good-sized property with a garage, he said.
And in an unusual move, agents encouraged sellers to accept buyers conditional on selling their own property at auction in Auckland - the booming city market meant it was "pretty well a definite sale", said Mr Easton.
Harcourts Coromandel owner and sales manager Andrea Mackenzie said its agents had been flooded with interest from Aucklanders snapping up holiday homes, especially those with the potential to be turned into permanent retreats.
"Particularly in the last year I've noticed a real increase in interest from people wanting to get out of the city and gravitating towards this area."
The average asking price for a house in Auckland hit a record $611,864 this month, according to realestate.co.nz, up 9 per cent on the same time last year.
Ms Mackenzie yesterday listed a property with an asking price of about $600,000 that had the potential to make a city dweller's eyes water, she said.
The house has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a sleepout, good-sized section and "absolutely stunning" sea views.
Affordable homes with ocean views
It's enough to make an Auckland house buyer weep.
Many Northland and Coromandel homes on the market for less than $600,000 offer ocean views on sizeable chunks of land.
A three-bedroom property in Whitianga has a large deck that looks over Mercury Bay and is yours for $595,000.
The same amount will get you a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Paihia.
And in Kerikeri a large home on 2474 sq m was snapped up for $610,000.
Asking price: $600,000
Land size: Just under an acre.
Architecturally designed. Views across the Pacific Ocean.
Asking price: $595,000
Land size: 850 sq m.
Large deck, Mercury Bay views.
Asking price: $580,000
Bedrooms: 3 large
*Bay of Islands home
Asking price: $595,000
Brick and tile. Ocean views.
Off Waipapa Road
Selling price: $610,000.
Land size: 2474 sq m
*Sunnyvale, West Auckland home
19km from city centre
Selling price: $361,000
Land size: 180 sq m
*Titirangi, West Auckland
20km from city centre
Selling price: $578,000
Land size: 10,000 sq m2