Why Aucklanders are buying homes in the Hawke’s Bay

Aucklanders are craving an easier life with less traffic, sea views, and wineries on the doorstep.

19 October 2020

2 Seaview Terrace, Bluff Hill, Napier, Hawke's Bay

Where are Aucklanders selling in the current market most likely to move next? It seems a number are starting to look seriously at relocating to the Hawkes Bay and they’re not necessarily looking to retire.

REINZ noted in its August regional report that residents of New Zealand’s largest city were making up a key chunk of the out of town buyers currently active in the Hawkes Bay market, September seeing the highest volume of homes (263) sold in the region since 2006. Trade Me Property figures show Aucklanders were the dominant out of towner searches in the Hawke’s Bay region in August and September, and this looks likely to continue into October. They made 287,576 searches over August and September, compared with 185,349 searches from Wellingtonians who have been making a well trodden path to the area for decades.

What does the Hawke’s Bay have that Auckland doesn’t? An ease of lifestyle, with no trouble in getting from A to B, beautiful beaches just half an hour’s drive away from the main towns, and don’t forget those world-class wineries.

“The weather is a big driver,” says James Haggerty, an agent with NZ Sotheby’s International Realty. The Hawke’s Bay is known for its sunshine hours and it’s lack of wind. “I think Hawke’s Bay has really come of age. It’s got a bit more life and sophistication and there’s still good value for money,” he adds.

One of the attractions for Aucklanders to the Hawke’s Bay is its great assortment of housing. It ranges from beautiful villas on Bluff Hill in Napier, modern lock ‘n leave homes in Havelock North to lifestyle properties in Taradale. There’s something for everyone and at a price tag out of towners find very enticing.

Aucklanders arriving with cash are looking at homes of up to $2 million. They’ve got the capacity to buy good properties in the Hawke’s Bay, says Mr Haggerty.

Many of the Aucklanders looking for homes in the Hawke’s Bay at the moment plan to work remotely, says Mr Haggerty. “There’s been a fresh wave of techy guys here,” he says.

The Hawke’s Bay has a number of excellent high schools to cater to families. These include Hastings Boys and Hastings Girls, Napier Boys and Napier Girls, and a number of private schools including Lindisfarne College and Iona College where children can board weekly.

The Sotheby’s agent is about to list a property in the heart of the wine area, a beautiful old home restored and modernised which he knows will appeal to Aucklanders. And it’s only 20 minutes into town.

He’s also seen strong interest from Aucklanders in Napier’s Laneways Ahuriri development, two and three storeyed townhouses on a freehold title, with an asking price between $1.25 million and $1.35 million.

Aucklanders looking for character homes with interesting history

Ray White agent, Linda Watson targets Aucklanders and Sydneysiders when selling her upmarket homes in Havelock North and its environs, and she knows what gets them excited.

“Aucklanders really like character homes and Hawke’s Bay is very accessible price wise compared to Auckland,” says the agent, who came from the big smoke herself.

“Auckland villa lovers who live in Mt Eden, have a passion for character, so I emphasise the architecture and the architect,” she says. “My out of towners like property that was built for the gentry,” she adds.

If they’re house hunting in Havelock North, they like being able to walk to the village. Ponsonby buyers are used to being able to walk to the village in Auckland, says Ms Watson.

Sometimes people will have some kind of family connection with the Hawke’s Bay area, one of the partners was born there, or they’ve been to school there, so have an affinity for the area.

“Hawke’s Bay is a destination of choice and Covid has made it more of a destination of choice,” adds Ms Watson. Aucklanders want to be safe, and are tired of the infrastructure issues of the city such as the bridge problems, so are looking to the provinces.

Different courses for different horse

Though Hawke’s Bay town Havelock North is a haven for retirees and families, it isn’t for everyone. Sotheby’s agent Marlene Nathan says empty nesters are often looking for somewhere in central Napier where they can walk to bars and restaurants without needing the car.

Some younger Aucklanders she’s helping prefer Napier over Havelock North. They find Havelock North a bit snobbish.

And in Napier, Aucklanders can get their beloved sea view, which costs a real premium in Auckland. Ms Nathan, who’s marketing a large five bedroom, four bathroom terrace villa in Napier’s Bluff Hill with great ocean views, has seen keen interest from Aucklanders in the home likely to sell in the $1.1 million to $1.2 million range. It could be used as a home and a separate Airbnb, she says.

2 Seaview Terrace, Bluff Hill

Ms Nathan is seeing four, five, six offers on properties. Many are cash buyers, people who have sold or are pre-approved.

How are Aucklanders managing to see these homes from afar? Some are sending relatives to look at properties, some are buying sight unseen, but usually they’ll send a relative and then fly down if it’s a serious option, says Ms Nathan.

People don’t necessarily need to have family in the area to want to move to the Hawke’s Bay, she adds. They often come to Napier for the Art Deco Festival in February and fall in love with the area.

“One client said: “I’ve been here two times now and we’re now coming back to live here.” They say it’s absolutely unbelievable,” says Nathan.

If it’s lifestyle properties you’re looking for...

The lifestyle property market has had a big surge in Auckland. And if it’s a lifestyle property you’re wanting, the Hawke’s Bay has a number of these properties available in some beautiful settings.

Bayleys’ agent, Fiona Harper, has been marketing an architectural home on a lifestyle property in the popular Tuki Tuki valley, and it’s now under contract to an Auckland buyer. Just 15 minutes from Havelock North, the spectacular 202 sq m home on 2.22 ha of land has an RV of $1.3 million and has had over 11,800 views on Trade Me.

“The attraction to the Auckland buyer was the views, the space and the easy commute to suburbia,” says Ms Harper. The home is also 25 minutes to the airport and 20 minutes to perfect golden beaches, Waimarama and Ocean Beach, says the agent. This made the property an appealing choice for the buyer wanting a combination of commuting and working from home. The pull of the Tuki Tuki river and fishing was also a key deciding factor, she says.

Demand for sections has also been high among Aucklanders, says Ms Harper. She says this group likes the idea of building or landbanking for the future if they can’t find what they’re looking for.

22a Churchill Drive, Taradale, Napier, Hawke's Bay

Fellow Bayleys’ agent, Mary-Jane Dixon, is meanwhile marketing a lifestyle property minutes to the Taradale shops. Again, the setting is picturesque. The home, which has over 17 ha of land, has views to Napier and to Cape Kidnappers and is in the $2.5 million plus price range.

With separate living space downstairs which could be used for Airbnb or as a home office, it would work well for a variety of buyers, says Ms Dixon.