Confirmation that owning a bach is now a dream for the vast majority of New Zealanders comes with the news that price tags have reached $1 million or more in even the smaller Bay of Plenty communities.

Coastal prices have almost doubled in just two years and a Bay of Plenty Times survey of the seaside strip from Waihi to Ohope has found seven-figure sums are now the norm.

The baches and homes are being snapped up by people from Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua and Tauranga, many of whom are using them only during the Christmas-New Year holidays and long weekends.

Warren Lambess, manager of real estate agents Harcourts Te Puke, said it was surprising how much beachfront properties had jumped in value. Much of it was driven by overseas buyers.

People were now looking further afield for cheaper properties, only to find slim pickings.

In his own patch of Pukehina, about 20km east of Te Puke, an ordinary beachfront bach could sell for roughly $800,000 when it was worth between $400,000 and $500,000 just two years ago.

A smart three or four bedroom, two-level beachfront house at Pukehina could fetch $1.2 million.

At fast-growing Waihi Beach, a two-level home next to the sand that was recently sold for a record $1.475 million was re-sold a month later for an extra $175,000.

Properties of 800sq m along the Waihi Beach waterfront are valued at $1.1 million -- just for the land.

Mike Fowler, principal of Professionals Fowler Real Estate, said he never thought prices would rise so quickly.

"For the people with money in Auckland, Waihi Beach is the place to be. I think they have had a gutsful of taking the windy road to Coromandel."

Tauranga people were also buying there, including retired couples shifting.

Agents report a trebling of beachfront prices in Pukehina in four years. Homes on the road opposite the beachfront have doubled in value.

One "basic bach" bought for $127,000 three years ago was now valued at $317,000.

Century 21 agent Patti Bryan sold one beachfront property three times in the past 10 years. Its price had soared from the original $83,000 to $630,000.

When sewerage reticulation comes to Pukehina, Mrs Bryan said, subdivision restrictions would free up and residential density increase.

At Ohope, a beach property was now worth more than $1 million -- and one that had been expanded into six bedrooms and two bathrooms was on the market for $1.35 million.

Earl Austin, principal of Professionals Austin Real Estate in Whakatane, said coastal property prices would not ease until there was an over-supply of listings -- and that was not happening.

Many of the holiday homes were tightly held by families, for as long as 40 years.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES