Less than 200 wealthy foreigners gained residency under the investor visa categories last year, despite 400 places being available
Immigration New Zealand says 176 investor visas were approved in the year to the end of March, and of those half have so far arrived in the country.
Immigration advisor Iain MacLeod says there are still lengthy processing delays and some investors are choosing to go elsewhere.
"How many people are not starting the process at all in the first place because of these incredibly long delays getting decisions out of the immigration department."
MacLeod said he had one client, an Italian living in China, who was tossing up between applying for residency in New Zealand or Portugal.
"I said if you want a quick plan, go to Portugal. That's what we're dealing with all the time now and that might explain the 176 out of 400, there's a lot of people starting to look elsewhere."
The government is reviewing its investment attraction strategy.
MacLeod expects the government is poised to hike the millions that foreigners will need to invest to live here under the investment visa categories, and is concerned such a move would price some out of the market.
"You're going to have a reasonable number of successful people, but not what you and I would call filthy rich, who are going to be priced out of the market."
Meanwhile, just a few dozen rich foreigners have arrived in the country under border exceptions designed to attract a couple of hundred people over the past year.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise together made places for 220 wealthy individuals.
The two organisations hope the exceptions will bring hundreds of millions in direct investment, job creation and skills.
Of the 60 people approved to visit, only 29 arrived in the country.
MBIE's Iain Cossar said most of them waited until MIQ was dropped, while others found flight availability and prices challenging.
"The exemptions were used for cases where businesses needed to conduct due diligence and other matters that couldn't be done via video conferencing, phone or emails. The low availability and high price of flights were also factors in businesses making the decision whether to visit New Zealand."
He said those visiting were from the tech incubation, health and aerospace sectors.
They invested at least $10 million, created jobs and contributed expertise.
"Overall, we saw significant benefit from those who were able to come to New Zealand under the Innovative Partnerships border exception, beyond the direct financial benefit," he said.