Surging house prices propelling New Zealand to one of the world's wealthiest populations

New Zealand's swelling house prices are propelling our population to among the wealthiest in the world.

Property consultancy Knight Frank released its 2021 wealth report this week, which was obtained by Stuff. It assesses the fortunes of people with "ultra-high" net worths and how they change over time.

Ultra-high net worth is defined by the consultants as being more than US$30 million (NZ$40.7 million).

The report found that over the past 12 months, the number of ultra-high net worth individuals worldwide increased by 2.4 percent to more than 520,000.

It also predicted the global population of ultra-high net worth individuals will grow by 27 per cent over the next five years, Stuff reported.

In 2020, there were 1904 people in New Zealand with a net worth of more than $40.7 million, and it's expected increase to 2886 in 2025.

In 2015, there were 158,782 people in the country with a net wealth of more than US$1 million. By 2020 that number had increased to 208,384, and by 2025 it's predicted to hit 359,251.

The report said the country's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, rapid economic recovery, "ultra-low mortgage rates", and limited supply of housing stock had contributed to the increase.

In February, the Real Estate Institute (REINZ) announced median house prices throughout the country had risen by nearly a fifth in a single year, from $612,000 in January 2020 to $730,300 in January 2021.

Senior ASB economist Mike Jones hailed the increase as "jaw-dropping".

"Nationwide house price inflation lifted to an annual pace of 19.2 percent in January," he said at the time. "That is a high not seen since 2004, a boom year for the New Zealand economy [in which] GDP growth exceeded 6 percent."