Retail spending and real estate sales are soaring in South Taranaki.
First National property agent for Patea and Waverley Kelly Baldwin said the rise in sales and the number of people wanting rental properties had risen steadily over the past two years.
People were returning home from Australia, moving down from Auckland and coming up from the South Island, she said.
"We have been amazed at the number of people returning. They're coming while they're still able to buy affordable properties here. So much has changed now. It's not really a quiet little backwater any more.''
South Taranaki was coming into its own, she said.
"There is a strong cultural history here and it is a beautiful area. Many of the properties were receiving multi-offers and rentals had gone up because the buyers are moving into the properties themselves.''
Adding to the buoyancy, retail spending in South Taranaki has continued to climb.
South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop said retail spending had grown by 7.2% in the past six months of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016.
"This is well up on the national growth of 5.6%.''
A total of $106.12 million went through South Taranaki tills in the six months to December 31, peaking at $21.22 million in December, followed by $18.07m in November, he said.
"This sends a very positive signal about the economic health of the District," Mr Dunlop said.
The volume of transactions was a 6.4% increase, he said.
The biggest spend continued to be in the food retailing sector (such as supermarkets), while clothing/apparel and accommodation had the strongest growth last year.
Bizlink Hawera (the Hawera Business Association) chairman Gerard Langford says the result is encouraging and reflects the positive vibes the association is getting from the business community.
"Importantly the trend that was set in the first six months of 2017, when retail spending grew almost 9%, has been maintained. The fact that residents spent around $47 million outside the district also suggests there are still plenty of opportunities for businesses to establish and grow in South Taranaki," Mr Langford said.
"With a number of new businesses opening in Hawera and several key private and council projects about to get underway, there is a real air of optimism about the town's future."
Mr Dunlop said there were a number of private business developments getting underway in the town centre.
"Which I think endorses council's decision to invest in our main central business district as a catalyst for growth."
The data is independently surveyed by Marketview for Venture Taranaki, and includes spending across eftpos, debit and credit cards through Paymark merchant terminals.
106.12 million was spent in the South Taranaki District in the second 6-months of 2017.
*This is up 7.2 % on the same period last year.
*There were 6.4 % more transactions than the same period last year.
*The average transaction value was $38.64, up 0.8 %.
*83 per cent of South Taranaki expenditure was by South Taranaki residents.
*South Taranaki residents spent an estimated $47m outside South Taranaki.