Househunters based in China made up more than half the visitors to New Zealand's top Mandarin property sales web site, most only looking in Auckland.

Sam Yin, founder and chief executive of Auckland-based real estate portal Hougarden, which means backyard in Mandarin, yesterday released his data on the 496,575 people who visited the site in February, March and April.

Of those, 53 per cent (262,042) were people who were based in China, compared with 45 per cent (223,607) of people who were based in New Zealand. Another 1.5 per cent (7498) were based in Hong Kong, Mr Yin said.

But he said that many of the offshore visitors left the site after viewing one page suggesting "that fears of offshore speculators may be exaggerated".

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"It's obviously a lot harder for overseas Chinese to buy property here than it is locals... It confirms that there is interest, but not necessarily hard cash coming from overseas."

Overall, 78 per cent (388,470) of people searched for Auckland properties.

Among the top 22 key words searched for were: subdivision, rental property, investment, weatherboard, full section, double Grammar zone, university, land bank and Rangitoto.

The data was for activity from February 1 to April 30, a similar timeframe to the leaked Barfoot &Thompson data which Labour received.

Auckland CBD was the top suburb searched for (8.5 per cent of searches), followed by Remuera, Albany, Epsom, Glenfield, Flat Bush and New Lynn. The audience included 50.2 per cent women compared with 49.8 per cent men.

Most visitors used a desktop to look at the site.

Mr Yin said the key words gave a picture of a community putting down roots and searching for schools.

"The recent debate over the level of foreign Chinese property buyers is ignoring the high interest and activity of New Zealand resident buyers. Our site statistics show a high level of engagement from Chinese in New Zealand and given the fact they live here, they are much more likely to be the buyers seen at auctions then overseas buyers.

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"Anecdotal stories of vanloads of Chinese buyers being ferried from the airport to buy houses and then being shipped out again may be true in isolated cases, but the period analysed is also the high point for Chinese tourism to New Zealand, and many Chinese from China coincide buying property here with holiday trips, so there's every reason to think the numbers for that period are likely skewed by this.

"Furthermore, most Chinese buying here from China either want to move here, have children coming to university here, or have a similar connection to New Zealand."

See the full hougarden release here: