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Despite a tendency towards political conservatism and a high number of retirees and rest homes, Nelson and the Tasman region still live up to their popular perception as an arty enclave of sun-obsessed semi-hippies with a strong community heart.

Nelson is the third-most ethnically diverse place in New Zealand. In the 1970s hippies were attracted to rural Tasman Bay and Golden Bay by cheap land prices. Since the 2000s different types of lifestylers – wealthy people from Germany, the US and other countries – attracted by the climate and environment have bought coastal land in the area.

There has been rapid growth in coastal areas such as Kaiteriteri and rural Waimea – around Richmond, Wakefield, Brightwater, Māpua and Wai-iti. Motueka and Nelson city have had reasonable growth – much of it
driven by internal migration.