Waitaki District fast becoming one of NZ's hottest property markets

It may be more famous as a holiday destination but the Waitaki District in the South Island is fast becoming one of the hottest property markets in the country. 

Your playlist will load after this ad

The average price for a home there has increased by almost double the national rate. Source: 1 NEWS

The average price for a home has increased by almost double the national rate.

The small town of Oamaru is getting used to being in demand.

Go back a few years though, and it was a different story, real estate sales consultant Tony Spivey recalls.

"I can remember in the late eighties when the South Island seemed to be getting deserted and there was talk of 'turn the lights off and let's move out'," he says.

Things have changed quickly in the Waitaki region, now one of the fastest growing property markets in the country

Over the last four years the median house price in New Zealand has risen by 28.6 per cent, while in Waitaki it's risen by 48.3 per cent.

It means a house worth $200,000 in 2015 would now cost around $340,000, a move which has surprised the community.

"It's been a wee bit of a surprise just how far ahead of the national average we are," says Gary Kircher, Waitaki Mayor.

The Waitaki District sits on the border of North Otago and South Canterbury, covering not just Oamaru, but also tourist hot spots like Omarama and Lake Ohau.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand chief executive Bindi Norwell says Waitaki is being talked about as "the next Queenstown".

"It's a great holiday spot. There's beautiful lakes, There's ski fields. It's actually quite stunning," she says.

Some believe the statistics are skewed by those buying in the growing tourism markets.

But Tony Spivey believes it's because of the booming Oamaru business sector, a lot of his buyers choosing to move south from Auckland.

"I have had phone calls from people saying, 'Look, it's very busy where we are. We might only live 200 metres form the beach, but trying to get to it's a bit tricky. What could I get for say two-million dollars in Kakanui?' And you can get a whole heap, let me tell you."

Prices are expected to continue rising, although mayor Gary Kircher hopes residents won't be priced out of the market.

"I think not. Like anywhere, when they start getting too far out of kilter with the standard inflation it becomes a problem," he says.

This growing region is starting to see the effects of its popularity.