Queenstown estates and Auckland mansions became must-have assets for billionaires, Hollywood celebrities and Chinese moguls over the past decade as New Zealand property prices rocketed to new heights.
The Herald has taken a closer look at some of the top sales of our glitziest blue chip homes.
The research reveals how prices took a dive this year after a government ban locked most foreign buyers out of the Kiwi property market.
The top five sales this year totalled $62.2 million, or 22 per cent below 2018's top five sales.
• Premium - Revealed: Buyer of NZ's most expensive house sold this year - magnificent $24m island paradise
• Sold after seven years: NZ's most expensive home getting new owner
• Premium - Ranked: 2019's most expensive national NZ property sales so far - results might surprise
The foreign buyer ban followed Herald revelations PayPal co-founder and Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel gained citizenship despite spending just 12 days in the country.
Thiel joined film director James Cameron, investment guru Julian Robertson and an unnamed Chinese e-commerce boss among those snapping up New Zealand luxury getaways and billionaire boltholes over the last decade.
The Herald used public records and data by analysts Valocity to uncover the decade's most expensive property sales and the mega-rich who bought them.
Joining international big hitters on the list of buyers and sellers were Lord of the Rings actor Karl Urban, former Prime Minister Sir John Key and a host of Kiwi rich-listers.
Read below for a list of the most expensive property sales for each year in the last decade plus a selection of other notable transactions.
Sold: estimated $14.75m
10 Jackson Cres, Mahurangi, north of Auckland
Buyer: Unnamed Kiwi expat
Seller: Supermarket barons John and Lisa Smith
The Herald earlier revealed John Smith went from stocking shelves in his dad's store as a kid to owning his own New World and Pak'nSave supermarkets. And he has now sold 2019's most expensive home.
Smith's clifftop mega-mansion north of Auckland sold in November for close to its $14.75m asking price, selling agents Sotheby's said.
Read more in our 2019 list of most expensive homes and their buyers.
15 Cremorne St, Herne Bay, Auckland
Buyer: Developers Simon and Paula Herbert
Seller: Insurer Stephen Lockwood
Simon and Paula Herbert were involved in a record-breaking month for residential real estate in 2018, as they incredibly bought and sold two homes worth nearly $60m combined.
This included paying $27.5m for a Herne Bay waterfront home boasting a pool, tennis court, temperature-controlled wine cellar and gorgeous harbour views.
"It's also one of only a few properties in Auckland with consent to land a helicopter, which was on our wish list, as it will allow us to fly direct to our house in the Bay of Islands," Herbert told the Herald last year.
Herbert - a specialist marina developer and investor whose business Empire Capital has marina assets at Bayswater, Hobsonville and Pine Harbour - and his wife featured on the latest NBR Rich List with an estimated $100m fortune.
Seller Stephen Lockwood, who co-founded insurance brokerage Crombie Lockwood, is also on the Rich List with $125m in wealth.
See our 2018 list of most expensive homes and their buyers.
538 and 542 Remuera Rd, Remuera, Auckland
Buyer: Unnamed out of China
Seller: Simon and Paula Herbert
Shortly before moving to the Herne Bay waterfront, the Herberts sold one of Auckland's most stately homes - a red-brick Remuera mega-mansion with English-style formal gardens and ivy creeping up its outer walls.
Among the home's many features is that it can hold separate parties in the swimming pool and tennis court areas because each has bathrooms and full kitchens.
The 900sq m mansion was sold to the family of a man who was "in the online tech industry in China", luxury real estate agent Ollie Wall said at the time.
Few other details of the buyer can be found publicly.
75 Argyle St, Herne Bay, Auckland
Buyer: Actor Karl Urban
Seller: Developers the Manson family
Kiwi star Karl Urban pretty much launched his career on cult television show Xena: Warrior Princess almost a quarter of a century ago.
Now, we know him from massive films like Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings and Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok.
And along the journey he has steadily upgraded his family home, with the Herald now able to reveal he last year made the leap into Herne Bay's prestigious Argyle St after buying from the Mansons.
103-105 St Stephens Ave, Parnell, Auckland
Buyer: Lianzhong Chen
Seller: Former Prime Minister Sir John Key
Former PM Sir John Key and Lady Bronagh Key claimed the biggest sale of 2017, as a buyer paid top dollar for their famous home.
The six-bedroom mansion in Parnell's most exclusive corner was the setting for political meet and greets, inner-circle National Party meetings as well as numerous music videos and Instagram moments from son Max Key.
After his parliamentary career Key is back to earning big bucks through roles on the boards of Air NZ and ANZ New Zealand.
The Keys retained roughly a 650sq m slice from their former Parnell property for a new home designed by Sumich Chaplin Architects.
Public records give few clues about buyer Lianzhong Chen.
Closeburn House at 1020 Glenorchy-Queenstown Rd, Queenstown
Buyer: New Zealand's richest man, Graeme Hart
Billionaire Graeme Hart already owns an Auckland mansion estimated by the Auckland Council to be worth $40m, plus superyachts and holiday homes in famous locales like Aspen in the United States.
And in 2017 he added Closeburn House in Queenstown to his list of playgrounds.
Stunningly perched beside Lake Wakatipu, with views of towering mountains rising sheer from the water's edge, the home features a day spa, equestrian centre, stables and extensive private horse trails.
Hart tops the NBR Rich List with an estimated $10 billion fortune.
341 Gordons Rd, Waiheke Island, Auckland
Buyer: US billionaire Julian Robertson jnr and his son
Seller: Rich-lister Christopher Reeve
Retired US hedge fund manager Julian Robertson jnr already owns property around New Zealand and now plans to turn his Waiheke Island purchase in Kauaroa Bay into a luxury lodge for 30-40 guests.
The renovated homestead built in 1865 comes with boatshed, helipad and tennis court among other goodies.
Dairy farmer-turned property developer Christopher Reeve - worth $85m, according to NBR's Rich List - sold the home.
186 Mahoenui Valley Rd, Coatesville, Auckland
Buyers: Cambridge siblings Anna, Mat and Nick Mowbray
Seller: Multi-millionaire Richard Bradley
Cambridge siblings Anna, Mat and Nick Mowbray paid an incredible $32.5m for the Auckland mansion made famous by Kim Dotcom.
The house was built for the multi-millionaire founder of online retailer Chrisco, Richard Bradley, in 2006, but later rented to Dotcom for a reported $1m a year.
The sprawling estate has 12 bedrooms and is on 22.6ha of manicured parkland with its own vineyard, lake and boathouse.
Dotcom moved into the mansion in 2010 and ran his controversial file-sharing website Megaupload from it. Armed police then raided the luxury pad in the early hours of January 20, 2012.
The Mowbray siblings are one of the country's richest families after founding Zuru, a top-selling toy company behind the Bunch-o-Balloons and Robofish products.
NBR estimated their fortune to be about $3b.
11 Clifton Rd, Hauraki, Auckland
Buyers: Former fund managers Carmel and Hugh Fisher
Sellers: Former glass suppliers Cameron and Tracey Gregory
Carmel Fisher and husband Hugh made 2019's second most expensive home purchase but they were also busy back in 2016, when they lavished $22m on this extravagant North Shore home.
The 1730sq m Takapuna house reportedly has three hidden panic rooms and a Westpac Bank-rated safe room.
Marketing at the time of the sale said: "The property also includes state-of-the-art security, marble bathrooms, imported chandeliers, Swedish solar heating, swimming pool and cabana, and garaging for eight vehicles."
The Fishers made a fortune after founding Fisher Funds and are on the NBR Rich List with an estimated $100m.
They bought the home from Cameron and Tracey Gregory, who owned a third of glass supplier Metro GlassTech, which sold for $366m in 2006.
64 Sentinel Rd, Herne Bay, Auckland
Buyer: Property investor Ben Cook
Seller: Endoscopic surgeon John Dunn
Rich-lister Ben Cook founded his own commercial property investment company and in 2015 used his wealth to buy one of Auckland's most stunning properties.
The Sentinel Rd mansion has wide-ranging views over Auckland's harbour and comes with a home movie theatre, separate guest house, helipad and beach access.
NBR puts Cook's wealth at $165m.
He bought the house from well-known surgeon John Dunn and wife Rose, who were also recognised as city art patrons.
44 Victoria Ave, Remuera, Auckland
Buyer: Venture capitalist Clark Perkins
Seller: Mad Butcher chief executive Michael Morton
Kiwi Clark Perkins founded his own fund management firm and has gone on to become an important player in Australian and New Zealand financial markets.
This year , he made headlines in Oz for splashing $30m on an exclusive Sydney pad.
Back in 2015 he paid $18.5m for the keys to the mansion built by on-again, off-again Mad Butcher chief executive Michael Morton.
Morton and his partner earlier bought the home, owned for decades by the Horton family - once owners of the NZ Herald - for $7 million in 2011 before demolishing it months later to build the current 860sq m mansion.
193ha vacant land block, Wanaka
Buyer: Billionaire tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel
Billionaire Donald Trump supporter, PayPal co-founder and Facebook director Peter Thiel paid $13.5m in late 2015 for a 193ha block of former Crown leasehold farmland on Lake Wanaka's shores.
The previous owners had tried — and failed — over the previous decade to subdivide the land. Council planners said the site was classed as an "outstanding natural landscape" and it was unlikely they would approve consents for any more than the single building already present.
Real estate agent Graham Wall told media at the time that while the land itself — rolling scrub hills — wouldn't seem out of place on the Desert Rd, Thiel was immediately sold on its isolation.
Thiel also bought a striking four-bedroom Queenstown holiday home known locally as the "Plasma Screen", due to its expansive windows, for $4.8m in 2011.
46A Matapana Rd, Waiheke Island, Auckland
Buyer: Infant-formula sellers Brent and Denise Sutton
Seller: KA No3 Trustee Ltd
A trust linked to former director of failed finance company Hanover, Mark Hotchin, sold this Waiheke Island pad for $14.3m to Brent and Denise Sutton.
Fronting on to a sandy beach, the five-bedroom holiday home had included a four-car garage and two-bedroom guest accommodation, plus four boat sheds, boat ramp, spa pool and tennis court.
But the new owners subsequently burned the property to the ground - during a controlled Fire Service training exercise to make way for a new luxury waterfront mansion.
Finance company Hanover failed in mid-2008 with close to 16,000 people losing investments totalling more than $500m.
Husband and wife Brent and Denise Sutton set up Sutton Group, a company supplying infant formulas and a variety of dairy powders.
170 O'Brien Rd, Coatesville, Auckland
Buyer: Jialing Yin
Seller: Eduard and Elena Gonzur
This opulent Coatesville mansion at 170 O'Brien Rd was billed as a rival to the nearby mansion rented by Kim Dotcom when it went on sale in 2014.
It features secret corridors, eight bedrooms, gym, sauna, guest wing and video surveillance.
Jialing Yin purchased the home in 2014 for $9.3m. But it has since been sold to the same trust linked to the Chinese buyer that paid $25.5m last year for Simon and Paula Herbert's red-brick mansion on Remuera Rd.
4 Huriaro Place, Remuera (more commonly known for being on Paritai Drive), Auckland
Buyer: Meat exporter Deyi "Stone" Shi
Seller: KA No4 Trustee Ltd
This was the year New Zealand's most expensive home sold.
China-born meat exporter Deyi Shi, known to his friends as Stone, handed over a colossal $38.5m to buy a humongous mansion straddling the Paritai Drive clifftop.
The home overlooks Waitematā Harbour and boasts an indoor pool and parking spaces for 12 cars. It was reported to have cost a trust linked to Hotchin $43m to build.
Shi is a New Zealand citizen who moved his family here from China almost two decades ago.
He is founder and chairman of the Oravida group of companies, which exports New Zealand meat, wines, seafood, fruit and dairy products to China.
The home was earlier the subject of a High Court freezing order as part of the failure of finance company Hanover, which businessman Mark Hotchin was a former director of.
8 The Rise St Heliers, Auckland
Buyer: Junhan Zhu
Seller: Anthony and Janet Banks
A Chinese manufacturing magnate paid $10.8m to snag 8 The Rise with its panoramic views stretching across the harbour all the way back to the Sky Tower and Waitākeres.
Architecturally designed, the home features five bathrooms, three living rooms, six-car garaging and a swimming pool.
The selling agent said at the time the buyers owned a manufacturing business in China.
"They decided they wanted their children and the next generation, their grandchildren, to grow up in a clean environment," Barfoot & Thompson's Paul Barnao said.
Anthony and Janet Banks sold the home after demolishing the original 1930s house in 2003 and building the current six-bedroom mansion.
10 Gibbons Rd, Takapuna, Auckland
Buyer: Canadian James Grenon
Seller: Alfred Barry and Emma McCollam
The six-bedroom home at 10 Gibbons Rd fronts directly on to Takapuna Beach and previously sold for $12.8m in 2004 for what was a record price at the time, according to a Herald report.
Canadian James Grenon then bought the home for $10m in 2012, although Auckland Council now estimates the house to be worth $19m.
19 Marine Parade, Herne Bay, Auckland
Buyer: Insurance brokerage Crombie Lockwood boss Carl O'Shea and Belinda O'Shea
Carl O'Shea also sits on the NBR Rich List along with his co-founder of insurance brokerage Crombie Lockwood, Stephen Lockwood.
O'Shea's wealth is now estimated to be $75m and in 2011 he laid out $8.3m to pick up his waterfront family home in Herne Bay.
107 Arney Rd, Remuera, Auckland
Buyers: Mondiale Freight Services shareholders Grant and Maria Ryder
Seller: Property investor Ben Cook
Rich-lister Ben Cook sold his six-bedroom Arney Rd home for $10m in 2010. With hindsight, it looks like a good sale because Auckland Council still estimates the property to be worth just $10m.