Luxury coastal properties in Northland that are attracting cashed-up Aucklanders and expats buyers to the area could change the vibe of the region completely.
With the number of luxury properties now for sale in Northland, could it even become the new Mount Maunganui?
Northland Bayleys agent Irene Bremner says it will not happen overnight in Russell, one of the key tourist towns in the Bay of Islands.
"There's a charm and beauty of being up here," she says.
"Expats are fast-forwarding their five-year plans, changing their lives, their goals. They are living among millions of people overseas and we only have thousands of people here."
Bremner says Russell and Northland don't have enough infrastructure to become the new Tauranga or Mount but One Tree Point, a coastal community which includes the waterways of Marsden Cove, about a 30-minute drive south of Whangarei, could, Bremner says.
She says it is in high in demand for Kiwis looking to relocate this summer.
"It's not as dear as Omaha or Matakana or Waiheke Island in Auckland where, for $2million, you're being sandwiched against someone else. Here you're looking into the sea with no traffic lights," she adds.
The start of summer sunshine makes people want to look for a waterfront property and a campaign for the area launched during weekend is already doing well, she says.
Since Covid-19, Bremner sold four properties, sight unseen, to overseas buyers. One of them was a four-bedroom waterfront property in Okiato Point, about a 10-minute drive out of Russell, sold with John Greenwood. The property, with a CV of $677,000 sold for $1.25m, sight unseen, to an expat returning home. It had spectacular views looking across to Opua marina and down the channel to Paihia, and its own private boat shed on the sand.
Just last week, Bremner listed another luxury Tuscan-style residence on olive-surrounded 1.729 hectares in the Parekura Bay, outside Russell, for $2.095m.
Athena Wang from New Zealand Sotheby's International Realty, is marketing a lifestyle block at 285 Manawaora Rd about 30 minutes' drive from Russell and says inquiries for the 10ha property, which will be sold by negotiation, are mainly from expats. The nine-bedroom, 10-bathroom house, designed by architect Simon Carnachan, is billed as "just four-hour easy drive from Auckland, or circa 45 minutes by helicopter".
"We have high-profile people from overseas inquiring as the property is very high standard," Wang says.
The 1180sq m house is divided into four luxury homes and has its own golf facility, an international-sized tennis court and a pool. The gated estate has boatsheds, a pontoon wharf, guest houses and on-site property management.
Wang says: "Everything here is done on a big scale. Even the spa pool is built for up to 24 people."
At the opposite end of the scale is a three-bedroom Kaitaia home asking $199,000 - one of the cheapest properties listed in Northland. It also has drawn plenty of interest.
Ray White agent Edith Dunmore says the 90sq m home at 6B Grigg St, on a cross-lease site, received five offers within two weeks, and is already under contract.
The offers mainly came from investors or first-home buyers, she says.
"That's what we've got here, buyers are either investors, first-home buyers or high-end property buyers but the trouble is to get listings."
Dunmore says anything in that price range sells quick.
"It's a very aggressive market at the moment. Especially for properties like this one because we're one of the cheapest [markets] in the country," she says.