The lure of cheaper homes and great lifestyle has led to an exodus of almost 6000 Aucklanders moving to Northland in four years, and many more are expected. In the four years to the end of June, 2017, 33,000 Aucklanders moved elsewhere in New Zealand and the largest number - 5955 - moved to Northland. Today, we meet a couple who fell in love with Northland on a visit so decided to sell up and move here.
When Auckland couple Carol Armitage and John Hawcridge visited Northland's Teal Bay more than four years ago, they fell in love with the place so decided to move there.
The couple are among almost 6000 people who have moved from Auckland to buy in Northland in four years.
They were in Northland for a trip to the Poor Knights in 2015 but, given a lack of available accommodation because of a fishing contest, they asked a friend if they could stay at their bach at Teal Bay.
''It was such a beautiful place that we just fell in love the moment we saw it. We went for a walk around Teal Bay and that's when we decided we had to move here,'' Armitage said.
''We decided to move here before we had even decided to sell the house [in Auckland's Greenhithe] or thought about jobs here. We just loved everything about the place. It's got a great sense of community - it's a real community where everybody cares about each other and helps each other out - and there's such amazing community support here.''
They moved up in June 2015 and haven't regretted the life-changing decision.
And they are not surprised that more than 6000 other people had joined the exodus north from the City of Sails. After all, there's less traffic, less pollution, a great, and less hectic, lifestyle, wonderful people, fabulous weather and stunning scenery.
''It's a bit of a mind shift though, and you have to keep an open mind, but it's wonderful up here.''
Armitage is a physiotherapist who specialises in pain management and runs her company from home, while Hawcridge runs a business in Auckland and commutes for a day or two each week.
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She said while the cost of housing in Northland was attractive for many Aucklanders who have high-value homes, their Teal Bay house actually cost more than the property they sold. But it was a fair price to pay for their slice of paradise, far from the madding crowd in Auckland.
''It feels so much like home. Whangārei is really growing, with more government money coming in [through the Provincial Growth Fund]. I'm able to work from home and travel [with work] around Northland,'' Armitage said.
''We have a great community spirit, and that isn't always the case in Auckland neighbourhoods, where everybody is so busy with work and everything. People are fantastic here, so in a sense we are coming back to a real community.''
With the roads to Auckland improving all the time, the big city is only a few hours away, and she suspects many more Aucklanders will eye the north as a great place to move to.
"We have had a lot of friends come to visit and you can just see them relax when they get here. We go fishing and walking and it's really relaxing for them. Then they go back to their hectic lifestyle.''
Economist, strategist and researcher Benje Patterson has analysed the most up-to-date information from Stats NZ and found that, in the four years to the end of June, 2017, 33,000 Aucklanders moved elsewhere in New Zealand, and the largest number - 5955 - moved to Northland.
Patterson said cheaper housing and Northland's superb lifestyle were some of the reasons for the exodus north during that period. But, he said, with the property market heating up since June 2017, several thousand more Aucklanders would have sold up and headed to Northland since then.
Patterson said the period covered coincided with the period for which detailed regional migration insight was available from Stats NZ, so his analysis was based on Stats NZ's subnational population estimates and experimental internal migration dataset.
''Not surprisingly, the key destinations for regional migrants from Auckland were across Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Northland. Our estimates show that 68 per cent of Auckland's population exodus to regional New Zealand went to Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Northland.
"The proximity of these regions would have been appealing for Aucklanders as they would more easily enable the maintenance of social and professional networks than taking up residence in farther-flung parts of the country,'' he said.
Over the four years to June 2017, 2889 Aucklanders moved to Whangārei; 1572 to the Far North and 1494 to the Kaipara. More than 4500 Aucklanders moved to Tauranga, 3381 to the Waikato, Hamilton getting just over 1500 of them.
Patterson said the regional migrants from Auckland had benefited other parts of New Zealand, initially by pushing up local spending, but then longer-term through adding to these areas' productive workforces.
''Many Aucklanders have sold up and used the high equity they had in their properties to be mortgage free in Northland, with a good lifestyle and money in the bank. This is the mot up-to-date data available on this and we'll have to wait for the data from the 2018 Census for the most recent information, but I'd expect there to be thousands more moving up there since [June 2017],'' he said.
On the move
Where Aucklanders moved to in Northland over the four years to June 2017:
• Whangārei - 2889
• Far North - 1572
• Kaipara - 1494