Lifestyle hits a sweet spot for wealthy migrants but weather and cost of living get thumbs down in study.

They love the lifestyle and making money isn't their main reason for arriving.

But super-rich migrants complain about New Zealand's cost of living, bad weather and slow pace.

Research into the residency schemes which have brought $500 million into the country in the past year shows rich foreigners love our country for the same reasons we do.

The greatest factors attracting those abroad who invest in return for residency are the lifestyle, the climate and landscape.

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A new Government strategy is preparing to put the investor migrant scheme into overdrive under the "New Zealand Investment Attraction Strategy". One aspect has set a target of bringing in $3.5 billion in the next three years from wealthy migrants - the same amount of money raised since the scheme was set up in 2009.

It is also looking to get better use out of the migrants' money by having the money going into business rather than just government bonds, where most investor migrants put their cash.

The new strategy comes after the release of research from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment which shows the motivations of investor migrants and the benefits they bring. It shows the new strategy to be ambitious against figures for the two schemes which at present offer NZ residency for investment cash - the Investor Plus category of residency, which requires a $10 million investment from applicants, and the Investor scheme, which needs $1.5 million invested and a further $1 million of settlement money.

The latest figures show the two schemes have flattened over the past two years, with 26 people entering on Investor Plus in the year until the end of June and 155 on the Investor. At basic rates of investment, it means almost $500 million was invested in New Zealand by 188 applicants and a total of 579 new residents.

The research showed 79 per cent of those surveyed were drawn by the climate and landscape while 68 per cent cited the lifestyle. The residency itself was a draw for 65 per cent, on a par with the 64 per cent who found NZ's political stability appealing.

The study also showed wealthy migrants came wanting to be involved in our society, with 85 per cent saying they expected to be capable of making a "significant contribution" to New Zealand. But just 34 per cent spent more than half their time in the country.

Rich migrants were "hesitant to make anything other than passive investments" because "they know little about investing in New Zealand and perceive passive as the most expedient and safest investment" for the residency application.

The research said good investment returns were shown "not to be a primary motivator" and was a factor for only a minority of those applying under the schemes. Factors which counted against investments in NZ businesses included the market's small size, its "over-regulation" and distance from the rest of the world.

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The research - based on interviews with 20 Investor Plus and Investor migrants - also found there was "considerable untapped potential contribution from investor migrants", financial and intellectually.

Of those who had moved here, 89 per cent said personal and lifestyle expectations had been met but only 62 per cent felt that of business and networking opportunities. Just 31 per cent agreed NZ "makes the most of investors' talents and networks".

Downsides of the move included extended family not being given residency and the difficulty partners and other family had adjusting to the shift.

View from Pinnacle Grove walnut orchard and homestay in the Wairarapa which is owned bought by Canadian director James Cameron.
View from Pinnacle Grove walnut orchard and homestay in the Wairarapa which is owned bought by Canadian director James Cameron.

A few complained of low investment returns, bad weather, the high cost of living and slow pace of life.

Immigration NZ skills and investment national manager Matt Hoskin said investor migrants valued straightforward Kiwi attitudes which he summed up as "clear, honest, transparent and can-do".

Avatar director living the vegan lifestyle

James Cameron is one of Hollywood's most influential names.

He's also a Wairarapa farmer and among those to have moved here under the Investor Plus scheme.

It emerged in 2012 the director of the Avatar and Titanic films had bought a 250ha dairy farm and followed it with an 817ha property adjacent to Lake Pounui.

On his application to buy the land, Cameron was described as a "film-maker, explorer and technology entrepreneur".

Since then, the dairy operation is believed to have been replaced by crops reflecting his vegan lifestyle.

Cameron was also reported to have bought Te Manaia Organics, a large organic vegetable producer, and a walnut orchard in Carterton.

With holdings now around 1500ha, Cameron bought the historic Baillie House in Greytown to set up as a vegan restaurant.

Cameron and wife Suzy Amis-Cameron have a young family.

After buying the land in 2012, he said: "We want to raise our kids with the values we had when we were growing up, close to the land and with a strong work ethic.

"We hope we will be accepted as good neighbours and good members of the community in South Wairarapa."