The number of lifestyle properties in the Western Bay has "exploded" with more than 570 new blocks being established since 2013.
Western Bay of Plenty Council data shows from June 2013 to June 2016 the number of lifestyle properties on the District Valuation Roll had jumped from 7026 to 7508.
Tauranga City Council statistics revealed from 2013 to 2016 lifestyle properties on its records had also increased from 1589 to 1678.
Simon Anderson, chief executive of Realty Group which operates Eves and Bayleys, said it had seen the "number of transactions in the lifestyle business explode in the Western Bay of Plenty".
There were a number of reasons driving sales including the desire for families to have more space, keep animals and the opportunity to generate an income.
"It might be kiwifruit, some avocados, a bit of citrus, a duck farm or a B&B, there is all sorts of different niche markets. People are trying to find a gap, fill that gap and create some value for the property."
Harcourts Tauranga managing director Simon Martin said the city had experienced big population growth which had a flow-on effect.
"We have had a lot of people move here and some people want the lifestyle concept. It's an attractive proposition to live on a lifestyle block close to the city and in the golden triangle with Hamilton and Auckland. You can have the best of both worlds."
Anton Jones from Tauranga First National Realty said more people were looking for lifestyle blocks.
Demand had increased and it was harder to get properties, he said.
Former Tauranga rural retail manager Lyall Holmes said there had been an "astronomical increase in lifestylers".
They were a completely different sector to horticulture, farmers and dairying who were spending money and adding to the economy, he said.
But Te Puke farmer Roger Hintz said from a farmer's point of view, the amount of prime land disappearing into so-called lifestyle blocks was concerning.
"The Western Bay is such a popular area and you're not seeing that sort of growth or explosion in a lot of other regions."
To some degree a fuse had been lit, he said as people tried growing different crops and got more innovative with their land.
Data from REINZ also showed a large increase in sales of lifestyle properties in both Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty in the last three years.
The number of lifestyle block sales in the Tauranga district more than doubled from 2014 to 2015, from 36 properties to 82.
Sales remained high in 2016, when 74 lifestyle properties were sold in the district.
The median price of the properties also shot up, from $561,013 to $830,000 between 2014 and 2016.
The Western Bay had many more lifestyle properties sold than Tauranga over the last three years- 351 last year, up from 266 in 2014.
Building the dream
Tauranga couple Jim and Jess Grafas have nearly finished building their new home near McLaren Falls.
Their 7000sq m section is a complete change for them and their two children Isaiah and Geneva.
"We are used to living with neighbours on four sides of us, this will be a chance for us to stretch our legs and give the children real space to play," Mr Grafas told the .
"It just made sense, it was either build on a tiny section to covenants someone else chose, or build what we wanted on a bigger section," he said.
"It's super relaxed there too, the first time I went up there I had had a really stressful day at work and there were birds and cicadas chirping among the silence."
They looked at other sections but the McLaren's spot had stolen their hearts.
Their three bedroom home being built by A1 Homes started in January and should be completed next month.
"We can't wait," he said.
- additional reporting Angela Woods and Ruth Keber