A small Bay of Plenty town has stood out in recent real estate statistics, with house prices there skyrocketing.
The latest QV House Price Index said the average home in the Bay of Plenty town of Kawerau had quadrupled in the past 10 years.
For the fifth consecutive year Kawerau, with a population of just under 7500, had experienced the biggest housing price growth in a decade.
However, it still sat at the lowest-priced district in the country having reached $443,093 in 2023.
A former mayor said early investors were away laughing, but a local said the growth was piling pressure on rent prices and local businesses.
Former mayor and Bay of Plenty regional councillor, Malcolm Campbell, who served on the Kawerau District Council for 27 years, said the town had become a haven for retirees who wanted to be mortgage-free and "live the good life".
Now, he said the town was simply playing catch-up.
"We were so far behind the 8-ball you could come and buy a house in Kawerau for $50,000, 10 to 15 years ago without too much problem at all. They had to go up, there was no two ways about that."
Long-time residents would be stoked they invested in the town, Campbell said.
"Motorhomers particularly who came here and decided to set up their home base here in Kawerau, they'll be laughing all the way to the bank and good on them, so they should be.
"But our average house price is still around about a hundred grand less than, say, Whakatāne, Edgecumbe or Ōpōtiki."
Like the rest of the country, he said house sales were starting to slow.
But Kawerau Enterprise Agency general manager Kevin Power said those who were not homeowners had the short straw.
A housing shortage was putting pressure on renters, Power said.
"The rents are extremely high for the quality of the house and the wages here, so there's a lot of pressure on locals housing-wise."
Out-of-towners with a bit of cash were swooping in to nab listed properties, which was having a flow-on effect, Power said.
"There's plenty of work here, but there's not enough housing, so the downturn, it's affecting the smaller jobs, your small sparkies, or your small engineering firm or the domestic side [has] really dropped off, they're certainly noticing the pressures."
Property Brokers Kawerau salesperson Matt Stephenson said the town's quick climb in prices all came down to competition.
"A lot of the influence on Kawerau's market is how Whakatāne's doing and Tauranga," he said.
"As those places have kind of become more affordable again as things have slowed off, there's just more people looking towards those bigger centres rather than the smaller towns, but property is still selling its just slowed down."
Stephenson said a smaller buyer pool was also leaving properties in sales limbo for longer.
However, analytics company CoreLogic told RNZ a small uptick in buyers and prices was anticipated across the country for 2024.