Eketahuna. It might not be famous for its fancy restaurants, but if skyrocketing land values are anything to go by, it's fast becoming a lifestyle hotspot.
The Tararua town has blasted up the property stakes with a whopping 252 percent average increase in residential land value over three years, Tararua District Council statistics show. The price of a section in Eketahuna, population 580, will now set you back $36,000. In 2005, it would have cost about $13000.
The average capital value - including a house and section - has seen a massive increase of 91 percent, up to $106,000.
And this small town, marketed as being at the heart of Kiwi country, isn't the only popular Tararua locale. Runners-up are Woodville, where house prices have risen 68 percent to $123,000, and Pahiatua, where an abode costs $158,000 - 43 percent more than three years ago.
Tararua District Council deputy mayor and Property Brokers Pahiatua real estate agent David Lea said these upturns aren't surprising, considering how low prices were.
"It started from nothing. Three or four years ago, if you got 10 grand for a section you were doing very well."
The surge in popularity is due to people's increasing desire to escape the rat race of bigger cities, he said.
"People come here to retire, people come here to work from home. And it's only 30 minutes to Palmerston North - you can afford to commute to work, and you're still in your kitchen by 5.30 at night.
"I've lived here all my life and I've travelled all over the world and there's no better place to call home."
Ex-Palmerston North resident and Woodville Districts Vision chairman Evan Nattrass reckons it's the old- school charm that attracts people to places like Woodville.
"It's very much traditional New Zealand, it's almost like it's in a time warp."
Low unemployment, good schools and sports clubs, and the chance to join community activities like the local volunteer fire service and radio station also played a part, he said.
- Manawatu Standard
If you had a choice, which would you prefer on Christmas day?Related story: Sun takes a Christmas holiday