Mega-mansion sales ran hot last year as foreign buyers and Kiwi rich listers battled it out to secure Auckland's most prized homes.
International buyers were in a rush to beat a foreign buyer ban that stops most overseas residents from snapping up Kiwi homes, while locals were also spending big.
The big hitters buying included Lord of the Rings star Karl Urban, a Chinese e-commerce boss and marina developers Simon and Paula Herbert, who incredibly bought and sold nearly $60m worth of Auckland mega-mansions in one month.
In a further sign of how the top-end market boomed in 2018, all nine of the most expensive homes sold for more than $10m.
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In this three part investigation, the Herald used public records and data by analysts Valocity to uncover the most expensive sales and identify the rich listers who bought them.
15 Cremorne St, Herne Bay
Buyer: developers Simon and Paula Herbert
Seller: insurer Stephen Lockwood
Rich lister developers Simon and Paula Herbert are definitely not short of coin.
They set a residential real estate record in 2018 when they incredibly bought and sold two homes worth nearly $60m combined.
This included moving to the Herne Bay waterfront for $27.5m where they can now enjoy a pool, tennis court, temperature-controlled wine cellar and gorgeous harbour views.
Oh, and getting around shouldn't be a problem either.
"It's also one of only a few properties in Auckland with consent to land a helicopter, which was on our wish list, as it will allow us to fly direct to our house in the Bay of Islands," Herbert, who has won the right to develop prime Auckland waterfont land, said.
The Herberts - who ranked on the NBR Rich List with a $100m fortune - bought the home from fellow rich lister Stephen Lockwood, who had an estimated $125m.
Lockwood made his name with insurance brokerage Crombie Lockwood and reportedly picked up the Cremorne St mansion in 2009 for $12.5m.
538 and 542 Remuera Rd, Remuera
Buyer: unnamed out of China
Seller: developers Simon and Paula Herbert
Shortly before moving to the Herne Bay waterfront, the Herberts sold one of Auckland's most stately homes - a red brick Remuera mega-mansion with English-style formal gardens and ivy creeping up its outer walls.
The 900sq m home was previously owned by businessman David Richwhite, then John Sanders, and has now gone to a family out of China.
Luxury real estate agent Ollie Wall said the Chinese buyer was "in the online tech industry in China".
"They're a family with children of primary school age. They're going to live in New Zealand, send their kids to local schools."
The Chinese buyer's trust also owns an opulent $9.3m Coatesville mansion at 170 O'Brien Rd with secret corridors, eight bedrooms and video surveillance.
The Coatesville home is in the same neighbourhood as a mega $30m mansion made famous by controversial entrepreneur Kim Dotcom.
45 Cliff Rd, St Heliers
Buyer: window and door manufacturers Warren and Jean Lewis
Seller: Jun Zhang and Xin Gao
Window and door manufacturers Warren and Jean Lewis must have a soft spot for Italy and its famous architecture.
They paid $17.6m last year for a three-storey Cliff Rd mansion that had earlier been advertised by previous owners in 2014 as like stepping into a Lake Como house in Italy
It boasts a 22m indoor pool, steam room, mahogany window shutters from Italy and an outdoor wood-fire pizza oven.
It also features a memorable courtyard filled with arches and creepers climbing the walls.
All-in-all, it's one of Auckland's most unique looking homes.
Warren Lewis earned his bucks as director of Fairview Metals Industries Group, which has a South Island glass manufacturing plant and specialises in making and selling doors and windows.
11 Arney Cr, Remuera
Buyer: Jinxing Xue
Seller: finance pair Simon and Sarah Allen
Simon Allen is one of New Zealand's best known financial experts, and he and his wife last year decided the market was right to sell their secluded, 1910-built five bedroom home in the heart of prestigious Arney Cr.
It features four bathrooms, five-car garaging, a tennis court and pool.
Allen has more than 30 years business experience, having worked as an investment banker and as chair of Financial Markets Authority regulator and New Zealand's stock exchange.
118 Long Dr, St Heliers
Buyer: Aquamarine Tulip Ltd
Seller: financial advisors John and Sondra Wigglesworth
Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit John Wigglesworth and wife Sondra sold their 1920s-built, four bedroom home last year to an unnamed buyer sitting behind the Aquamarine Tulip company.
The four-bedroom St Heliers home features a swimming pool and tennis court as well as access to the lush bushland of the Dingle Dell Reserve.
Accountant John Wigglesworth was recognised with an ONZM in 2013 "for services to art, waterskiing and the community".
Public records show his former home is now owned by Aquamarine Tulip. Yet the company does not appear on Companies Office register's public records.
27 Bay View Rd, Kelvin Heights, Queenstown
Buyer: Shuk Kuen Cheung
Seller: John and Mary Thompson
This luxury Queenstown home sits on the water's edge and was billed in marketing material as being in one of famous town's most-sought after areas.
It features three bedrooms, five bathrooms, parking for five cars and "million dollar views".
Public records contain few details about Shuk Kuen Cheung, however.
71 and 73 Argyle St, Herne Bay
Buyers: Edward and Culum Manson
Sellers: Sir Kenneth and Lady Glenice Stevens
2018 was a busy year buying and selling Herne Bay homes for rich lister developer family the Mansons. Estimated to be worth $650m by the NBR Rich List, the clan sold up a home on 75 Argyle St to actor Karl Urban and then bought next door at 71-73 Argyle St.
That small step was a giant leap in one regard, however, because it took them onto the prestigious Herne Bay waterfront and "an enormous 2795sq m" block boasting sea views and access to the beach.
Their new home sits beside some of Auckland's grandest mansions and comes with five bedrooms and four-car garaging.
It was also ripe for transformation into a "modern masterpiece" should the new owners wish to renovate, advertising by Bayleys selling agent Edward Pack stated at the time.
The expansive grounds also lent themselves to the possibility of adding a swimming pool or tennis court.
The Manson family has been working in property for more than 40 years and now has its third generation at the helm.
They bought the waterfront home from fellow rich lister and manufacturer Sir Kenneth Stevens and his wife Lady Glenice.
Knighted in 2009, Sir Kenneth founded his own company Glidepath, which has since set up baggage handling and security screening systems in airports around the world.
13 Marine Pde, Herne Bay
Buyer: property mogul Justin Wyborn and John Bolland
Seller: business pair Andrew and Samantha Coster
Rich lister Justin Wyborn made the hop across town last year, moving from Remuera into a prestigious Argyle St waterfront property.
The elegant home's lounge room gives spectacular views of the harbour due to its land sloping down to the sea.
It also boasts its own cinema room with surround sound and tiered seating, an award-winning design kitchen, lap pool and spa.
Wyborn's dad Mark Wyborn ranked 42nd in the latest NBR Rich List with an estimated $410m fortune, but is increasingly stepping back for the likes of son Justin to take over.
The Herald recently ranked Justin Wyborn and his business associates the 13th most powerful people in New Zealand property, among those with privately owned companies.
Their $1 billion-plus business owns all the waterfront land in Auckland's Viaduct harbour, along with big slices of Newmarket and surrounds.
That means when you stop for dinner at a Viaduct restaurant or cafe, or set foot in a waterfront apartment, you are standing on land owned by Wyborn's company, Viaduct Harbour Holdings.
Wyborn also recently sold his other home at Rota Pl in Parnell.
75 Argyle St, Herne Bay
Buyer: actor Karl Urban
Seller: developers the Manson family
Kiwi star Karl Urban might have first popped into our lounge rooms with his roles on cult television show Xena: Warrior Princess almost a quarter of a century ago, but now he's a massive star.
Roles on films like Star Trek, Lord of the Rings and Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok have helped Urban amass a healthy bank balance if his latest house purchase is anything to judge by.
Buying from famous developer clan the Mansons, Urban has moved into one of Herne Bay's most distinctive houses - and he isn't likely to be leaving the suburb anytime soon.
He has steadily been upgrading over the past decade, by selling and buying ever bigger Herne Bay homes.
"I often get asked if I'd move to LA. I just absolutely love living in Herne Bay. It's got a great school, awesome cafes and really lovely, interesting people," he told reporters back in 2012.