Home cinemas that stood dark for months are now in full use. Gyms are being assembled and used, sparkling pools not used weekdays are now the place to be and unopened books are being picked up.

Tennis games are back on and landscaped gardens are being used as New Zealand's wealthy now take full advantage of their mansions.

Instead of working long hours and only seeing home in the dark, their new lives in quarantining is turning them towards all the opportunities offered by the places they paid millions for.

Ollie Wall, Scrap and Graham Wall. Photo / Ted Baghurst
Ollie Wall, Scrap and Graham Wall. Photo / Ted Baghurst

"If you've got a nice place, it's going to be even nicer in lockdown," says real estate agent Graham Wall, who in 2013 sold New Zealand's most expensive house for $39 million and last year sold more than $100m of property.


Wealthy people were often staying home instead of going to their holiday places, he said. And by being at home, they've been discovering entirely new delights.

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"It's like being in the south of France," Wall said from his quiet Ponsonby house, eschewing his bach north of Auckland which he says is too far from his family. Sons Ollie and Scrap are dropping groceries on the front doorstep and Wall says he feels connected to his family, even though he can't see them.

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"Stay home, save lives," posted Harry Hart, son of New Zealand's richest man Graeme Hart.

Other wealthy Kiwis fretted from their open-plan living/kitchen/dining about a big cruise ship that floated into Auckland on Thursday, although a Ports of Auckland spokesman said no one would disembark.

Having a waterfront view suddenly seemed terrifying. But the Azamara Journey was not letting any passengers or crew into the country and was merely picking up supplies. The public were reassured the ship was not breaking any rules.

99 Arney Rd where the Dukes lived is a third of a hectare. Photo / supplied
99 Arney Rd where the Dukes lived is a third of a hectare. Photo / supplied

"We're getting calls from Kiwis living in London and Hong Kong, just with a bit of time on their hands, they're looking at real estate and thinking of returning to New Zealand," said Wall, whose agency just sold the colonial-style Remuera house of Briscoes managing director Rod and Patricia Duke.


Places like that third-of-a-hectare Arney Rd/Bell Rd property would almost be like living in the country in a lockdown.

"I've found the National Geographic channel," Wall said of his Sky Television subscription. "I'm watching stuff I didn't even know existed - Rialto and SoHo2, all sorts of things I never paid attention to before."

For Wall, being at home gives him the first opportunity he's had in years to appreciate his surroundings. And he thinks many others are in the same boat.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website