has more people than the whole South Island…and it’s really the only place
in the country with anything resembling an active real estate market.
So if you want to invest in a property you can soon sell or rent, look
in and around the city.Except for high-end real estate, the market is still
very flat—and you can find excellent bargains. For example, in Manurewa,
there’s a beautiful 3-level, 4-bedroom home, with all kinds of modern amenities,
situated in some lovely gardens, for NZ$235,000 ($117,500). To see it go
to: Escape Artist's New Zealand Real Estate Page: http://www.escapeartist.com/emnz/emnz.htm
If you want
investment properties, you should be able to find, with a little bit of
effort, a rental property that generates a 12% net return. For example,
if you buy a place for NZ$200,000, it’s not unreasonable to think that
you can make NZ$24,000 a year on rents. For speculative properties, I’d
stick to the areas around Auckland, say, within an hour’s drive of the
city. If you’ve got a lot of money to spend, I’d recommend you look at
the Bay Of Islands, which consists of about 150 islands. I saw a home
here not too long ago, a big beautiful house on about 50 acres, selling
for roughly US$350,000.Here you’ll find unspoiled beaches, kauri forests,
and some of the best sport fishing in the world. New Zealand waterfront
is very cheap by U.S. standards. If I was looking at a property for an
investment, I’d look around Auckland, in the Bay of Islands, or in Queenstown,
which is on the South Island, on Lake Wakatipu. Recent legislation has
made property buying fairly easy and straightforward. You can get title
insurance. And there’s a well-developed mortgage industry, so even for
foreigners it shouldn’t be a problem to arrange financing. Only if you
are purchasing a really large piece of land on the ocean near Auckland
will you encounter any red tape. For this kind of property you’ll need
the permission of the Overseas Private Investment Council. This group exists
because there’s a nervousness in New Zealand that first the Japanese, and
now the Americans, will buy up all of their land and drive the natives
If I was looking
for a place to live or retire in New Zealand, other than Auckland, I’d
also look at the areas outside of Gisborne and Christchurch. Gisborne,
on the far eastern coast of the North Island, is the first city in the
world to greet the sun each day. Here you’ll find lots of sun, and many
parks, beaches, and bridges. Right now, there’s a four-bedroom home for
sale in Okitu, outside of Gisborne City, for NZ$285,000 (US$142,500). You
could eat breakfast on the East-facing deck, as you watch the sun rise.
Available through Harcourts. Another place I’d like to live is Christchurch,
on the East coast of the South Island. This city has literally acres and
acres of gardens. It’s a laid-back place, and many artists have settled
here. It’s also done a good job of attracting tourists, so properties in
town can be quite expensive. I’d recommend you look outside of Christchurch,
perhaps going even as far as Akaroa, 50 miles southeast of the city.
Two of the
best places to grow grapes in New Zealand are Marlborough andHawke’s Bay.
Marlborough is one of the country’s most important wine-producing regions.
place hosts an annual food and wine festival, is home to one of the country’s
biggest wine makers, Montana, and gets lots of sunshine to grow big, fat
grapes. This area is famous for its Sauvignon Blanc, but is also capable
of making Merlot, Riesling, and Chardonnay. My other choice for vineyard
property is Hawke’s Bay, on East side of the North Island. The vineyards
here produce excellent Cabernet, Merlot, and Chardonnay. Right now, near
Hawke’s Bay, there’s a four-bedroom home for sale, with a 4-hectare block
ideal for growing grapes, for NZ$310,000 (US$155,000) (Harcourts Realty).
best trout fishing
If you’re looking
for a place to have a vacation home, where you can escape the modern world,
I’d look around Lake Taupo and Queenstown. Lake Taupo, on the North Island,
covers about 230 square miles—and it’s the most famous trout-fishing lake
in the world. Five hundred tons of the fish are pulled from here each
year. I’d love a place along one of the rivers leading into the lake. They
are equally well stocked with rainbows. You should be able to find a very
nice house here for $150,000 or less. You should be able to buy land along
the rivers for as little as US$400 an acre.
If you like
outdoor adventure sports, go to Queenstown. Here you can go white-water
rafting, jet-boating (these propellerless boats zip up and down the river
in a foot or two of water), canoeing, windsurfing, water-skiing, catamaran
sailing, bungee jumping (one of the highest bungee jumps in the world is
at Skipper’s Canyon). If you want slower activities, these streams are
also excellent for trout.
to tree farm
I’ve thought about in New Zealand is buying a sheep station and turning
it into a softwood tree farm, where you could easily grow Douglas firs,
even California redwoods. The wool industry has been decimated not only
in New Zealand, but also around the world, because of synthetic fibers.
New Zealand’s sheep population, which once stood at 70 million (the world’s
largest), has dropped to 35 million at last count. Near Queenstown,
there’s a little area called Glenorky. The area between Glenoray and Queenstown
would be perfect for this kind of investment.
I may get involved
in one or more of these things in the coming years. I’ll almost certainly
buy and sell other parcels of land. But for now, I’m content to simply
hold onto what I’ve got. I’ll develop a small house first, one that will
later be used for my guests, while I figure out exactly what kind of larger
house I want to live in.