Affordable housing a boon for Ohai

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A recent property sold in Birchwood Rd, Ohai. It is a three-bedroom cottage on a 1012m2 section sold with three sections. Photo: Supplied

SOUTHLAND’S small rural township of Ohai is enjoying somewhat of a resurgence.

“People are being attracted into the area because of the affordability and the lifestyle Ohai can offer,” Ray White Real Estate salesperson Tanya Colyer said.

From June 2017 to May this year she had sold 11 properties in Ohai.

The township, built in a farming district, experienced a population boom after coal was discovered nearby in 1917 and immigrant miners poured in.

However, in the past several decades it had experienced a population decline after mining families started leaving the area due to mine mechanisation and resulting job losses.

In the 1980s there were about 1000 people living in Ohai. It now had a population of about 360.

In recent years, Ohai was reported to offer the most affordable residential property in New Zealand.

According to Real Estate Investar, the median listing price for houses in Ohai was $82,500.

“There are not too many places in New Zealand where you can buy for under $100,000 and live a great lifestyle with fishing, hunting, boating all at your doorstep,” Ms Colyer said.

“While the house prices increase around New Zealand, I think we will see people move into these smaller communities.”

Professionals real estate agent Eileen Brooker said there was demand for cheap houses in the area.

“Anything from about $85,000 to $125,000 gets snapped up pretty quickly.”

She had recently sold two properties in one week for $95,000 and $180,000, she said.

One buyer had come from Auckland, she said.

“Buyers like the area, they like the quietness and the remoteness.”

John Van Turnhout and his wife Lynda moved from Invercargill to the township last year.

Mr Van Turnhout said they had been looking for a place to retire where they could be mortgage-free.

Two couples in their friend group, whom they had known for about 40 years, having already moved to the area was another drawcard, he said.

“It’s nice out here. Nice scenery. It’s quiet. No traffic.”

There was plenty to do in Ohai with fishing and hunting close by, and it was within about an hour’s drive to Te Anau and Queenstown, he said. There was also a strong community in Ohai, with regular events held at the hall.

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