Campaign touts cheap houses, job opportunities and warmer weather as reasons to leave the rat race behind.

One of New Zealand's smallest cities is attempting to lure Aucklanders by cashing in on its cheap housing, ample employment opportunities and warmer weather.

A campaign led by Bayleys Real Estate and backed by the Gisborne District Council and the Chamber of Commerce is being launched, and will include a two-day expo in February in Auckland to show city-dwellers they can afford the house of their dreams if they are prepared to travel six hours to get it.

Bayleys Gisborne manager Karen Raureti said about once a week the office fielded inquiries from out-of-towners - mainly Aucklanders - looking for a warmer climate and more affordable housing.

Ms Raureti said they were mainly people looking to retire, but the city was also "screaming out for younger professional families".


She said in the past there appeared to be a perception that Gisborne wasn't a place where you could be successful because it was out on a limb. However she said there were plenty of jobs available and the lifestyle couldn't be beaten with no traffic and the city and beach are only 10 minutes away. Last week her husband popped home from work during his lunch break and had a swim.

House prices were also a big drawcard. Gisborne's median house price of $253,000 last month was significantly less than half of Auckland's, which reached $540,000 during the same period.

There was also plenty of land and plenty of houses available. A brand new house with a double garage, four bedrooms and two living areas on an 800sq m section could be bought in the Copperfields Estate subdivision for about $400,000 because of cheap land prices. A three bedroom home with a garage could be picked up for about $220,000.

Gisborne mayor Meng Foon wanted to see more entrepreneurs and people who ran e-businesses move to Gisborne.

Already 30 online businesses from larger New Zealand cities and other parts of the world had relocated to Gisborne while still maintaining their customer bases. There were also more than 28,000 businesses operating in the district.

"We are a pro-active region, promoting our lifestyle to the rest of the world and we want businesses to set-up here. And that's probably one of the easiest ways to do that and be practical about it as well," Mr Foon said.

"I suppose it's quicker to fly from Gisborne to Auckland (50 minutes) than to drive from the North Shore over to the city sometimes."

An economic report carried out by the district council pointed to strong growth potential in the horticulture and agricultural industries, while Tairawhiti District Hospital has 14 job vacancies.

Mortgage-free and just 12 minutes from CBD

Steven and Kristin Parkes will be mortgage-free by March.

The couple haven't won Lotto - they have simply sold their rural property in Ardmore, South Auckland, for a 2ha lifestyle block 12 minutes from Gisborne's CBD.

The Parkes have bought a large three-bedroom home with two living areas, and will be heading there when their property - from which they have run a nursery for 29 years - settles in less than three months.

Even though the house they have bought is more modern and has larger bedrooms, it was cheaper than their existing home, so they can pay off the mortgage and have some money in the bank in case they don't find jobs straight away.

"It's basically enabled us to clear our mortgage and still buy the property," Mrs Parkes said. "It's basically enabled us to be mortgage-free and keep working.

"Where we have bought is only 12 minutes from town but we are still rural. Which is a bit like where we are now, Papakura is only a 10-minute drive but we are still rural so it's sort of similar and the town is not as big."

Mrs Parkes admitted it was a big change as they were moving away from family, but she was keen to give it a try and have a break from managing staff. Their two daughters, both in their 20s, were also supportive of their parents' move and the older was looking forward to being able to visit and go surfing.

"My husband, he wanted to go somewhere warmer and [with] good beaches."

Mr Parkes, 52, and Mrs Parkes, 53, also considered relocating to Whakatane but were swayed by the type of property they could get in Gisborne. It has a small vineyard with a contract to supply grapes to a winery, and they are hoping to get similar work on other properties.

However, their new home also has enough land so they could start up another nursery if they changed their minds.