Queenstown may have become a tourist mecca and playground for the world's rich and famous, but it's also left many Kiwis priced out of its housing market.

Picturesque mega-estates valued at well over $10 million now dot the region, owned by the likes of billionaire former Trump adviser Peter Thiel, disgraced former NBC anchor Mat Lauer and pop-star Shania Twain's ex-husband.

Even median prices sit above the $1m mark at $1.13m and $1.14m for Queenstown and Wanaka, respectively, according to the latest quarterly QV Property report.



Yet, for Kiwis hoping for their own idyllic mountain retreat or lake house, there are other options less touched by New Zealand's tourism boom.

Take Ohakune. Nestled in the foothills of Mt Ruapehu and acting as a gateway to the Whakapapa and Turoa Ski Fields. The alpine village is listed in QV's report as the ninth cheapest location in the North Island.

Its median home values were just $249,300, while nearby holiday hotspots Taupo and Omori, on the banks of Lake Taupo, are also cheaper than might be expected at $427,000 and $406,800 respectively.

Lakeside Omori-Kuratau properties are reasonably priced compared to Queenstown.
Lakeside Omori-Kuratau properties are reasonably priced compared to Queenstown.

And while many Auckland suburbs have more than doubled in value since 2007's last market peak, prices have risen just 1 per cent in Ohakune and 26.3 per cent in Taupo.

In Omori, meanwhile, prices fell 5.1 per cent, making it one of just three places in the country where values have dropped since 2007.

CoreLogic NZ head of research Nick Goodall puts the sluggish growth down to a heavy reliance on tourism and lack of diversified economies.

"So the demand for property, year round, isn't as consistent," he said.

However, Bayleys Ohakune branch manager Kay Blaney said the market had been moving recently with house prices pushing over $300,000.


Growth in mountain biking and plans by Ruapehu ski field operators to stretch the skiing season to 10 months with the help of artificial snow-making had also helped create year-round demand, she said.

"There is a lot of people just starting to discover the region now."

Westerman Cozens Realty co-director in Turangi, Zane Cozens, said investors had also recently been busy in Omori and Turangi (where QV says median values have dropped 3.2 per cent since 2007).

"Entry level now is probably $300,000, which on national terms might not seem a lot, but that is a big shift from where it was 18 months ago," he said.

Cozens said prices had risen on the back of a booming tourism industry that was leading investors to consider buying holiday homes that they also had the option of letting out on services like Airbnb.

"That market has definitely lifted," he said.

Elsewhere, Napier City was the pick of the North Island regions over the past three months with 3.4 per cent growth to hit a median home value of $500,347, according to the latest QV figures.

Whanganui District was the next biggest gainer with 2.5 per cent growth to reach a median value of $244,293, followed by Rotorua District with 2.2 per cent growth to $426,458. Hastings and New Plymouth Districts with 1.3 per cent growth followed behind.

Nelson, Marlborough, Dunedin and Invercargill were the standouts in the South Island.

Values in Milford Sound gateway town, Te Anau, were the biggest movers over the past three months with median prices jumping 17.7 per cent to $402,700.

There was also a healthy 5.4 per cent and 9.5 per cent growth in Queenstown and Wanaka, respectively.

CoreLogic's Goodall said Queenstown's unique international reputation meant it was a market anomaly and "beast all on its own".

"You can't really compare it with the other large tourism spots such as Taupo or Ruapehu," he said.