A $1.7 million sale of a beachfront property at the seaside suburb of Wainui is proof that outsiders are discovering Gisborne, real estate agents say.

While Gisborne prices are cheap by national standards, people were prepared to pay for premium sites.

The house, built in 1975 and overlooking Wainui Beach, shattered the record price for a residential house in Gisborne when it sold for $1,710,000 at an auction just before Easter.

The previous record was $975,000, paid for another beachfront property at Wainui in October 2003.

Listing agent Neil Walker said six parties made more than 65 bids, starting from $800,000, before the property sold "under the hammer" to a woman who recently bought a property at Tolaga Bay.

Harveys real estate chief executive Ross Hunter, who travelled from Auckland and auctioned the home, said waterfront property prices had "boomed" during the past five years.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand district representative and Harveys principal Philip Searle said people were "discovering Gisborne".

"The price may be a record to us but it's very affordable to others," Mr Searle said.

Mr Walker said the appeal of the Wainui property was the large 1620sq m section and the more than 23m open frontage on to Wainui Beach.

The vendors of the Wainui property had lived there since 1975 and were leaving the district.

One person at the auction was the grandson of a man who owned the property around World War 2.

"He would have turned in his grave," the grandson said.