Sales of $1 million-plus properties in small Bay of Plenty seaside towns have doubled and even tripled in some areas as city-dwellers seek the coastal lifestyle and work-life balance.
Real estate agents say the beachside boom is being fuelled by big-city residents seeking holiday homes. But in one seaside spot baches that have been in families for years are becoming scarce as they are snapped up for permanent homes.
The number of $1 million-plus properties sold in Pukehina doubled from 10 to 20 in a year and more than tripled in Waihi Beach to 43 from 13, according to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.
In Ōhope - recently crowned New Zealand's best beach - the increase was 28 per cent from 14 to 18.
In all three towns, the median property price increased by more than 20 per cent in the year.
REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said seaside locations had always been popular with Kiwis, particularly during summer as people went to the beach.
"Since we went into lockdown in the early part of 2020, the importance that people have placed on lifestyle and being able to get outdoors seems to have shifted significantly.
"With that, we've seen more people interested in baches or holiday homes in seaside towns around the country – particularly as people have diverted spending on overseas holidays into residential property."
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said OneRoof's figures also reflected a big lift in the beach town market.
"Our sales in the last three months indicate there's been a big rush to spend post-lockdown savings on holiday homes," he said.
"Kiwis are venturing further afield outside traditional bach locations and moving to places like Ōhope and smaller coastal towns in the Bay of Plenty, even lakeside destinations like Taupō and Rotorua."
Simon Anderson, managing director of Realty Group Limited which operates Eves and Bayleys, said people were seeing value in nearby smaller beach towns such as Pukehina, Waihi Beach and Ōhope.
There were also some "huge sales" at Ohiwa Harbour near Whakatāne, he said.
"Most of our sales are still with locals but a high percentage are people moving from bigger cities like Tauranga and Auckland.
"What Covid has taught us is we can work remotely from home."
Ray White Pukehina owner Rochelle Carter said Pukehina had changed from a sleepy town with 80 per cent rental and holiday homes to a desirable place to live permanently.
"What we are seeing is the family beach houses are now becoming permanent residences after they are sold.
"Baches that have been in the same family for over 30 years, these are now becoming scarce."
First National Paradise Coast owner and director Gordon Turner said most beachfront properties at Waihi Beach were selling under $3m. One bach a road back from the beach sold on the weekend for $1.425m, he said.
Living by the beach
Keita Durie and her partner Richie Martin bought a home in Pukehina just before Christmas.
The couple moved from the bustling city of Tauranga to the small beachside town in Pukehina in search of a coastal lifestyle.
"We wanted to have a bit more of a work-life balance, and what better way to do that than to move out here," Durie said. "We've always loved the beach."
The pair moved to Pukehina with their two children, aged 3 and 1, and their dog.
"You don't really have to leave. It's all here," Durie said. "Plus Pukehina still has that beachy vibe to it."
They paid $865,000 for a four-bedroom, two-storey, two-bathroom home one street back from the beach, with ocean views on one side and farm views on the other.
"It's got that real coastal lifestyle. There's so much to love," Durie said.
"We love that it's not too far to commute. We are a lot more relaxed. It feels like we're on a never-ending holiday. I don't think there's been a day when we haven't been to the beach."