Christchurch is standing out as one of the hottest rental markets in the country.
New data from Trade Me shows Canterbury supply dropped by a third last year, while demand for rental property increased by a third.
It follows a national trend - with the national weekly median rent now $560, an increase of $40 on the same time last year.
It means on average tenants will need to fork out another $2000 each year on rent.
Porirua rent holds the title as the most expensive district to rent in the country with the median weekly rent hitting a record high $700 in December.
Rising rental costs are compounded by inflation, which is now at its highest level in a generation - at 5.9 per cent.
Trade Me Property sales director Gavin Lloyd said the Christchurch market is a stand-out, with a 32 per cent drop in supply and a 32 per cent rise in demand last year.
"It is very hard for first home buyers to purchase a property at the moment which means they are tending to stay a little bit longer in their rentals which is really having an impact on the supply side of things".
Further data from Corelogic shows the average price for rent has risen to $429 per week – 10 per cent higher than a year ago.
Chief property economist Kelvin Davidson said he suspects high demand is prompted by affordable housing in Christchurch.
"There's been some demand coming in from other parts of the country pushing up the prices of real estate, whether that is to rent or buy," he said.
It is leaving flat hunters in Christchurch with a battle on their hands, as the challenge to find somewhere to live is heightened by demand.
Student Ben Lord has been finding about 20 people have been turning up to view rental properties.
He said he has found competition a lot stiffer compared to previous years.
"It's been a lot busier, there's been far more people there than normal I would say than last time I've been looking for a flats. Last time it was quite easy to get a place, it didn't take too long".
Lord said he's found the hunt for a home intimidating as a student, with a lot more families showing up to a property viewing.
But further south, the Otago University Students' Association isn't reporting the same issues.
Student Support manager Sage Burke said he hasn't observed students finding this year any more difficult compared to previous years.
A quick search on Trade Me shows nearly 300 listings for rental properties in Dunedin, with more than 150 in typical student areas – and nearly 100 listings for flatmates.
But the OUSA is anticipating the cost of rent and demand to rise – with Burke highlighting there is a significant issue with housing quality.
"We regularly see students being asked to pay high rent prices for houses most reasonable people would consider barely habitable. Myths such as they won't be able to find a place due to rental a shortage, they will be blacklisted by landlords if they complain, or that it is some sort of rite of passage continue to enable this."
Burke encourages students to consider all their options from starting a flat, joining an existing flat or looking at studio rooms and boarding.
"We also remind our students that they don't have to limit themselves to famous streets or named flats and there are often a lot of lovely properties for rent slightly further away from campus."
Lloyd also recommends preparation is key to finding a dream flat.
"First impressions do really matter, I guess we do treat it like a job interview – present yourself well, be honest, be authentic and follow up".