Australian publisher APN is putting its South Island newspapers on the block, including The Star in Christchurch and the Oamaru Mail.
It is also intending to sell the Capital Community Newspaper group in Wellington, but is keeping the weekly free Kapiti News.
The company wants to focus its business in the North Island where it sees most growth.
APN intended to sell the papers as going concerns with staff transferring to the new ownership.
Today's announcement comes about three months after APN converted its flagship newspaper, The New Zealand Herald, into a "compact" newspaper.
"While the company has enjoyed a long association with the South Island, we see more expansion opportunities in the North Island which will drive most of New Zealand's population growth over the next decade and where we have most of our New Zealand media businesses," APN New Zealand Media chief executive Martin Simons said.
APN owns a stable of daily, Sunday and community newspapers, magazines and websites.
APN said it was still strongly committed to New Zealand and would continue to sell its national magazines and online properties across the country.
"The company will also continue a major association with Christchurch and the South Island through its 50 per cent ownership of both The Radio Network and APN Outdoor.
"We are proud of all our publishing teams, particularly the integral role The Star played in Christchurch after the second major Canterbury earthquake on 22 February 2011 when the newspaper was converted from a bi-weekly broadsheet to a daily compact within 24 hours to keep the community informed," Simons said.
"We very much hope that a new owner will build on this legacy and the great resilience of our people," Simons said.
The Star's circulation was more than 70,000.
It was founded 140 years ago, and was a daily afternoon newspaper until the late 1980s when it was turned into a bi-weekly free newspaper.
It also publishes six free community newspapers which are The Pegasus Post, Observer, News Advertiser, Western News, North Canterbury News and Selwyn Times.