With waterfront property in high demand right around the country, and with prices striding ahead in the flagship areas, turn your eyes to some of the unsung heroes.
Rich in history, famed for maritime pleasures, tales tall and true, and BIG fish, Kororāreka, known today as Russell, excels with natural beauty, quaint charm, and waterfront sweet spots.
Following the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi signing, and for a blink in time, Russell became New Zealand’s first capital, but the seaside village continues to bat above its weight.
Russell and its immediate ocean playground know a thing or two about high-end property with private islands, luxury lodges and internationally-acclaimed estates selling at a commensurate price.
However, it also boasts retro Kiwi baches, lock-and-leave residences and more price-accessible waterfront offerings as part of its inclusive, old-school community vibe.
Upsides: The fishing, weather, friendly and eclectic locals and high-season residents, perfect spot to relax, reside and retire to, the new Bayleys Russell office.
Downsides: Can’t possibly do justice to all the great hospitality offerings and recreational activities in just one bite.
Auckland: Point Wells
Across the estuary from market headliner Omaha, lesser-known Point Wells is a micro-settlement with a great community and postcard setting.
Now comfortably less than an hour’s drive from Auckland city thanks to roading upgrades, Point Wells’ relative affordability when contrasted with Omaha – where beachfront property sells north of $8 million – is a plus.
Well-regarded Matakana School means young families can make a sea change, while empty nesters can escape the city rat-race yet still be in easy reach.
Upsides: The Northern Gateway motorway extension opening early-2023 will bring Point Wells and the wider Mahurangi district 10 minutes closer to Auckland city; the subdivision of Point Wells is complete so further growth is constrained, which will underpin future values.
Downsides: Busy traffic on a summer’s Saturday morning as everyone descends on the world-class farmers market. You won’t want to miss it, though – so do as the locals do and get in early.
Coromandel: Whitianga Waterways
One of New Zealand’s newest and largest waterways developments boasting marina berths at the front doors of aspirational homes, brings a touch of Europe or eastern seaboard Australia to the Coromandel for permanent residents or holiday-homers.
It’s a cost-effective way to float your boat while securing an exclusive property with expansive views over the waterways with its high-end homes and marine vessel eye-candy.
In opening up the waterways, hundreds of new non-waterfront lots have also been created, nearly doubling the residential footprint of Whitianga, thereby broadening the residential price spectrum and creating a vibrant town.
Nabbing a waterfront lot with berthage for upwards of $2 million is a compelling proposition when considering a marina berth alone could cost from $800,000 to $1 million.
Upsides: Very close to the renowned fishing grounds of Mercury Bay, and a gateway to Aotea Great Barrier and Tūhua-Mayor Islands.
Downsides: None on our radar.
Rotorua: Lake Rotoiti
Almost everyone who buys on Lake Rotoiti either knows someone there, has holidayed there or has a family connection.
Given its handy location and the recreational fishing and water sports opportunities, it’s no wonder intergenerational property owners hold tight.
Mount Maunganui via the new expressway on the State Highway 33 side of the lake, and Whakatane (with outstanding fishing) on the State Highway 30 side, are both 40-45 minutes’ drive away.
Get to Rotorua city from either side of the lake in 20 minutes, or mountain bike in nearby Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest.
There’s been a wave of activity post-pandemic as some owners freed up capital for other opportunities, with Lake Rotoiti’s first $3,000,000-plus sale achieved.
Upsides: Brilliant central location, safe for boating, swimming and water sports, many properties have lawn-to-lake access, and some have riparian rights.
Downsides: More leasehold land at Lake Rotoiti than neighbouring Lake Tarawera or Lake Okareka.
Taupō: Rainbow Point
Naturally sheltered away from the predominant wind in Taupō, and getting good sun, Rainbow Point on the lake’s eastern shore is a stalwart of the Taupō property market but sometimes, other areas get the limelight instead.
Tightly-held intergenerationally, if you can buy in this location, you’ll never regret it.
Unlike some of the homes in Taupō, there’s no main road to cross to the lake when you buy waterfront property in Rainbow Point.
Restaurants, cafes, boat ramps and the main town are all in convenient reach, and there’s a good mix of permanent residents and holiday homeowners.
Upsides: That sheltered position we’ve mentioned, easy access to the Great Lake Pathway (Lion's Walk) for a daily exercise hit, close to everything, and direct access to the lake.
Downsides: The boat ramps can get busy at peak times (but locals have them to themselves most of the year).
Sun-soaked Anakiwa in the Marlborough Sounds may be best-known for the Outward Bound adventure school where intrepid attendees have been put through their paces since 1962, but it’s also a much-loved and quietly sought-after Sounds settlement with many brownie points in its favour.
Understated Anakiwa has a passionate local community with a permanent population of around 170
It’s easily accessed by boat or car, has safe sandy beaches and is the final destination for hikers undertaking the Queen Charlotte track, before catching a water taxi to Picton.
There’s a community jetty and boat launching facilities so you can head out and chance your hand at some prized blue cod, enjoy some water sports or visit one of the many eateries with boat access that the Sounds are renowned for.
Upsides: All of the above, plus you could commute to either Picton or Blenheim for work.
Downsides: The laid-back, Kiwi vibe makes leaving hard…