Auckland edges Wellington as the most expensive city in New Zealand for tenants - but rents in the capital have risen more in real terms since 2000.
The trends are visible in a Herald interactive graphic, which uses official Government data adjusted for inflation to track 21 years of rent increases in our most expensive cities.
In early 2000, Auckland's average residential rent was $250 per week, according to figures from Tenancy Services, part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Adjusted for inflation, this comes to $388 per week in 2021 dollars.
Today Auckland's average residential rent is $564 per week, which represents a 45 per cent increase in real terms.
The average Wellington region rent was $235 per week at the start of the millennium, which amounts to $338 per week in 2021 dollars.
Today it has risen to $517 per week, a 53 per cent increase in real terms.
Auckland and Wellington suburbs typically have higher rents than the rest of the country. Few suburbs in Christchurch, for example, have average rents over $500 per week.
No suburb in Queenstown currently has rents over $700 per week, although Kelvin Heights, Warren Park and Lake Hayes exceeded this level in 2019 before Covid struck.
Outside Auckland and Wellington, Tauranga is the area with the most rapidly rising rental prices, but again no suburbs average more than $700 per week.
The interactive shows the most expensive rental suburbs in yellow ($500–$600/week), orange ($600–$700/week) and red (over $700/week). All prices are adjusted for inflation to 2021 dollars.
•Explore the full interactive here on NZ Herald Premium
Renters United organiser Robert Whitaker said he was "unfortunately not surprised at all" by the Herald's rent rise data.
"It's getting more expensive and we're now seeing it spreading to Tauranga, Hamilton and elsewhere. We need much greater government intervention on the supply side and to protect tenants via rent control."
Successive governments had turned a blind eye to the rising cost of renting, which for aspiring homeowners meant income was diverted away from saving for a deposit, he said.
For those on low incomes, it forced people to make impossible choices between paying the bills, feeding themselves and their family, and losing their home.
When the Government introduced its rental changes to a furious backlash from some property investors and commentators, Greens housing spokeswoman Chloe Swarbrick accused landlords of crying "crocodile tears" after a year of amazing capital gains and falling mortgage interest rates.
Andrew King, NZ Property Investors Federation president, rejects the claim.
"We were actually fine with most aspects of the changes but had real concerns over some, especially removing 90-day notices," King said of the February 11 changes, the most wide-ranging in 35 years since the original act was passed.
Philippa Howden-Chapman, professor of public health at Otago University, is concerned about rising costs.
She said numerous studies had shown there was a rapidly growing problem with severe housing deprivation.
She was worried about the number of people whose rent swallowed more than 50 per cent of their income, who were living in dilapidated conditions or in places where there was no privacy or security of tenure.