The region that's overtaken Auckland as most expensive place to rent

New Zealand rental prices have reached an all-time high and we have a new region taking home the top spot for the country's most expensive place to rent, according to Trade Me's latest Rental Price Index.

The latest data reveals the national median weekly rent in Aotearoa has jumped to $625 in December - the first increase in almost six months.

For the Bay of Plenty, rent prices have soared the region all the way to the top, overtaking Auckland as the most expensive region to rent.

Rent in the Bay of Plenty went up by 11.7 percent compared to last year, reaching a high of $670 per week in December, while Auckland's median rent was $660.

The Western Bay of Plenty surged by 14.2 percent, and Tauranga went up by 7.7 percent, pushing the overall rent figures up in the region.

"Although we've witnessed a recent dip in rent prices in Auckland, it typically remains one of the pricier places to live, often rivalling Wellington," Trade Me's property sales director Gavin Lloyd said.

"Normally, the highest costs are in regions with major cities, but this demonstrates that other areas have plenty to offer renters."

Marlborough stood out as the sole region experiencing a year-on-year decrease in rental prices nationwide, with a decline of 0.9 percent making the median weekly rent $530.

Meanwhile, Southland retained its status as the most affordable place to rent in New Zealand, with a median price of $440 per week, marking a slight 2.3 percent increase from the previous month.

Wellington's median rent was $650 per week, while Canterbury's was $570.

Rental Price Index showing December 2023 vs November 2023.
Rental Price Index showing December 2023 vs November 2023. Photo credit: Trade Me

Lloyd said 2023 was the first time that December has recorded a month-on-month increase.

"Seeing rent prices go up in the last month of the year is not something we typically do see, especially since the official cash rate stayed the same in late 2023," he said.

Compared to the previous December, tenants are now paying an extra $45 each week.

"Kiwis are still grappling with higher living costs and we're now starting to see this flow through to rental prices," Lloyd said. 

"Many people will be watching the new Government in 2024 as recent legislation has reshaped the Reserve Bank's focus to a singular mandate - to bring down inflation."

Demand for rental properties has slowed in the main regions ahead of the holiday season. 

Nationwide demand for rental properties in December was down 19 percent compared to November, while listings were also down by 17 percent.

Trade Me found this trend was clear across many regions, including major hubs, where Auckland (down 20 percent), Canterbury (down 19 percent), and Wellington (down 8 percent) all saw a decline in demand. Gisborne and Marlborough were the only two places that experienced an increase in demand.