A large piece of land for sale in Wellsford could be the answer for Aucklanders looking for cheaper housing and a change of lifestyle.
The 87ha block of farmland, owned by the same family since 1929, is being marketed as an urban residential development opportunity on the fringe of a rural satellite town. Wellsford is about 80km north of downtown Auckland.
Under current zoning rules, developers could build a mix of housing options on the land, including lifestyle blocks, apartments and houses.
There is 44.32ha zoned for countryside living, 7.82ha for future urban zoning - medium-density housing - and a little over half a hectare set aside for houses.
The remaining 34.27ha is zoned as rural, but under the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan will also change to countryside living.
This will mean that under the Unitary Plan, there will be 78.59ha of rural countryside living which could be subdivided into 2ha lots, and down even further through the use of transferable titles.
The "future urban" classification is a transitional zone which allows land to be used for rural activities until it is released for development.
John Barnett from Bayleys Warkworth, which is marketing the land for sale by tender, said the property's pending future urban zoning would support Auckland Council's drive to increase the population of satellite towns such as Helensville, Tuakau, Kumeu, Pukekohe and Warkworth.
"The development of this land would ideally reflect a visionary new owner who can see a growing Wellsford over the coming decades with a thriving residential population, many of whom will be commuters to Auckland thanks to an improved roading network supported by the ability to live in a semi-rural township."
Mr Barnett said land in the region was being snapped up as buyers sensed a local shortage.
The opening of the Puhoi tunnel express highway in 2009 and its pending extension further north, first to Warkworth and then on to Wellsford, had also shortened travelling times to and from Auckland, Mr Barnett said.
"This evolution of the motorway will really bring Wellsford into play as Auckland's northernmost satellite town."
The land, which is described as "flat to gently undulating", is a few hundred metres from Wellsford Primary School and Rodney College.
He said with up to 87ha of land able to be developed, the block offered developers economies of scale for the construction of medium to large adjoining residential sections.
Mr Barnett said prices for large-scale development sites on Auckland's northern and southern metropolitan urban limits had risen about 20 per cent over the past two years, so developers were now having to look further afield.
"Constraints on the availability of medium- to large-scale greenfield residential development opportunities has been cited as one of the major factors contributing to Auckland's new build costs being so high," he said.
Also with the pressure on Auckland's housing supply chain and supporting infrastructure becoming tighter, developers had been looking further away to identify opportunities with scale.
"As a result, this land has moved from being a purely rural location."
Based on other comparative sales, and taking into account inflation and increasing land values, he expected the block to be worth more than $3.5 million.
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand chief executive Colleen Milne said there was increasing evidence that Aucklanders were looking outside central Auckland for properties, both as owner-occupiers and for investments.
"Regions such as Rodney are increasingly being identified by Auckland buyers as providing significant buying opportunities ... both in lifestyle properties and residential.
"The Rodney and north residential median price has risen to $685,000 in June 2015, up from $580,000 for the same period last year - this is an 18 per cent increase."
Ms Milne said there was also a significant increase in the number of sales in June this year - 219 compared to 159 for the same month last year.
Senior Auckland Council planner Penny Pirrit said it was good to see support for the council's approach to providing a range of housing choices throughout Auckland.
"Wellsford is an example of a rural town where there are opportunities for people wanting to buy into an existing built-up area, as well as for countryside or lifestyle block living adjoining the township."
She said the "future urban" land was an opportunity which would be realised when the township needed additional capacity. "The actual timing of that rezoning for residential uses is not known but is unlikely within the next five years unless demand increases significantly."
Tenders for the Wellsford block close next Wednesday.