Feature article

The Waikato housing market: exploring suburb hotspots

The Waikato region is experiencing huge growth – these are the suburbs to watch.

There’s no denying the New Zealand housing market is a hot mess; property prices have skyrocketed to astronomical levels across the country, a whopping 30% increase in just over a year to be precise. There’s really no wonder people in more expensive markets are looking for greener pastures.

Searches for property across the Waikato region have been booming on Trade Me, as more home buyers consider it a desirable place to live. These searches, coming mainly from Auckland and Tauranga, have more than tripled across all suburbs when compared to this time last year – that’s some serious demand.

Which areas are getting the most interest and is it still value for money? Let’s take a look.

1. Cambridge

Located 24km southeast of Hamilton in the Waipa district is the popular – and winner of ‘New Zealand's Most Beautiful Large Town’ award in both 2017 and 2019 – Cambridge.

Property price breakdown:*

The average house price in Cambridge is currently sitting around $880,000.

  • House: $900,000
  • Townhouse: $750,000
  • Apartment: $387,000
  • Unit: $650,000

In the last 12 months alone, over 3 million Cambridge property searches** have been started on Trade Me – this is a 35% increase from the previous 12 months.

It’s easy to see why Cambridge is attracting so much interest. It’s slowly been establishing itself as the ‘Ponsonby’ of Hamilton, with sought-after schools such as the popular Cambridge High School and the private St Peters School, established sports facilities and tree-lined streets. The good news is you can still get yourself a nice property for under $1 million (a rarity in Auckland).

2. Flagstaff

Flagstaff is now one of the most expensive suburbs in the Waikato region, with supply at an all-time low. The average house price is $1,050,000, due to its desirability, with searches up 55% compared to this time last year.

Property price breakdown:

  • House: $1.1 million.
  • Townhouse: $1.3 million.

3. Rototuna

Rototuna has been a suburb experiencing extensive development and growth for some time. Work has gone into not just delivering a suite of new housing developments, but the creation of a real community hub, including libraries, open spaces, and playgrounds.

The appeal of the area only seems to grow, with over 2,098,000 Kiwis searching for homes in Rototuna this past year.

Property price breakdown:

The average price in Rototuna is now sitting at $900,000, up 24% on the same period last year.

  • House: $1 million.
  • Townhouse: $600,000
  • Apartment: $449,000
  • Unit: $602,000

4. Whangamata

Popular for retirees and those looking for a holiday home, the majority of Whangamata searches are coming from Auckland and Tauranga. We don’t blame you – who wouldn’t want to live in Whangamata?

Property price breakdown:

  • House: $935,000
  • Townhouse: $1.1 million
  • Apartment: $769,000
  • Unit: $600,000

5. Chartwell

The suburb of Chartwell had over 140,000 property searches in July alone. The average price in Chartwell is $767,000, which isn’t too bad considering it borders the popular and expensive Rototuna.

Property price breakdown:

  • House: $839,000
  • Townhouse: $729,000
  • Apartment: $614,000
  • Unit: $619,000

6. Whitianga

Yet another Kiwi holiday hotspot in the Coromandel that attracts thousands of tourists around the clock. Houses are expensive, but again, it’s a sought-after holiday-home destination and retirement paradise.

Property price breakdown:

  • House: $900,000
  • Townhouse: $729,000
  • Apartment: $600,000
  • Unit: $575,000

7. Te Awamutu

Of the hottest suburbs, Te Awamutu offers the best value for your money. A mix of new development and quaint bungalows are scattered across this little town, and it’s only a 30-minute drive from Hamilton CBD.

Property price breakdown:

The average house price in Te Awamutu is $660,000, with over 1,700,000 searches in the last 12 months.

  • House: $655,000
  • Townhouse: $595,000
  • Unit: $500,000

8. Hamilton East

One of the more affordable suburbs in Hamilton – and home to the lovely Hamilton Gardens – is the ever-popular Hamilton East. That’s not to say it’s been immune to the housing heat, with an average house price of $679,000 (up 10% from 2020.)

Property price breakdown:

  • House: $700,000
  • Townhouse: $729,000
  • Apartment: $854,500
  • Unit: $514,500

The Hamilton gardens sits on the edge of Hamilton East and the Waikato river.

9. Raglan

Who knew Raglan was only a 35-minute drive from Hamilton CBD? The accessibility of this surfing hotspot, steeped in natural beauty, from Hamilton only adds to its desirability. But demand is high and new listings don’t come along often. So you’ve got to get in quick! 

Property price breakdown:

  • House: $919,000 
  • Townhouse: $1 million.

10. Hillcrest

Home to the University of Waikato and densely populated by students is Hillcrest. Almost 800,000 searches for property in Hillcrest have been made on Trade Me this year, with 100,000 in July alone.

Property price breakdown:

  • House: $750,000
  • Townhouse: $783,000
  • Unit: $549,000

Is it value for money?

The median house price in Auckland has now breached $1.1 million, making the call of the mighty Waikato more and more desirable. Even those who own their own homes in cities such as Wellington, Auckland, and Tauranga have found themselves priced out of the market – it’s these people who would benefit most from relocating.

The Waikato, particularly areas in or around Hamilton, are an attractive option for many out-of-towners looking for affordable housing in an increasingly unaffordable housing market. Its proximity to holiday hotspots such as Raglan and the Coromandel, as well as being close to Auckland makes it a truly central and accessible hub. It offers affordable living options for a range of budgets and a high quality of life.

You can buy almost any kind of home, from apartment to lifestyle property, for less than almost all major regions in the North Island. Searching for a 500m2 property for under $650,000? Then look no further than Te Awamutu, Hamilton East, and Hillcrest. The affordability of these areas is enviable when you look at what your money can buy. It’s the northern suburbs of Flagstaff and Rototuna where prices are over the $1 million mark, with Cambridge and Chartwell following a similar trajectory.

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*Median price in the 6 months to July 2021.
** Note that a single user can produce multiple searches within a single session.