The phenomenal property frenzy in the city two hours south of Whangarei is pushing up demand and prices for Northland houses - with values soaring by up to 7.8 per cent in the past year.
While owner-occupiers are buying, investors are also active in the market - and mostly from Auckland.
A number of investment rental flats have sold in Whangarei, including blocks of four and 10 flats built in the 1970-80s. Talk of a single buyer having bought at least 30 properties recently could be a case of Chinese whispers - the number of houses involved changes in the telling and no one in the industry has been able to confirm the rumour.
The Northern Advocate spoke to three people who had recently dipped into the Whangarei market.
Roof painter Lyndon Proudly bought a classic three-bedroom, two-bathroom bungalow in Woodhill in July, for $227,000.
"I bought it as a do-up because I could see the potential," he said.
"I timed it right. I think now is the time to buy. If people can get the deposit together they should really think about it while there are still some houses on the market that are not rubbish."
Still only a third of the way into the renovation, Mr Proudly has been offered $265,000 for the house which is not even on the market. He would not let it go for that.
Whangarei couple Grady and Sally Trail, who own their family home, have just bought a two-bedroom unit as a long-term rental investment.
"We'd been searching for about three months. We had a budget of around $300,000 and we were looking in an area that would attract good tenants," Mr Trail said.
They bought in Powhiri Ave, "at the bottom of the scale in a higher-market area".
The couple had been relaxed about finding a place until they realised the market was moving quicker than they were.
"I personally don't think there's a shortage of houses on the market but I think they're going up in price very quickly," Mr Trail said.
Meanwhile, Gemma Anderson and Phillip Hardy moved north last summer after selling up in Auckland and buying land at Waipu, where they will build soon.
Ms Anderson, a credit-control officer, had a few months between jobs but Mr Hardy, a boatbuilder, had work arranged before moving north. While they benefited from the already heated market in Auckland, they were able to buy in Northland before prices and availability were affected by demand from cashed-up Aucklanders and investors.
"We actually were lucky to buy our land just below CV. We brought 14 acres and now after this big Auckland boom we have found, looking at other properties, we wouldn't get what we have for that price."
Whangarei prices had risen 7 per cent in 12 months, the Far North 4.8 per cent, and Kaipara 7.8 per cent. The values are still well below the 2007 pre-global financial crisis peak. Much of the rise had been in the past three months, tying in with experts' opinions that Auckland prices and relocating Auckland buyers are having a major effect.
"Whangarei has good amounts of active buyers and sellers, who are a key ingredient of a healthy market, and we are seeing an increasing number of Aucklanders moving here," said Whangarei-based QVhomevalue registered valuer Jeff Robinson.
"Generally, they are people who've owned a home in Auckland and have sold it for an excellent price. Some have jobs lined up in Whangarei and some are commuting to their jobs in Auckland.
"The areas that are seeing the greatest increase in value of late are coastal settlements of Parua Bay, Ngunguru, as well as the golden mile in Glenbervie. There is demand for homes in these areas not only from locals and those moving to the region, but also from Aucklanders looking for holiday homes."
Meanwhile, the number of building consents granted for new homes in Northland in July alone shot up by 36.6 per cent over the same period last year - 82 consents compared with 60.