Otago house sales in February continued "apace'', but with flat prices on a year ago, while in the separate Central Otago Lakes region prices climbed almost 14%, but with flat sales numbers.

Otago house sales rose 16.7% from 263 a year ago to 307, while the Lakes region saw prices climb 13.7%, from $489,250 to $556,111, data released by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand showed.

Compared with February last year, 10 regions recorded increases in sales volume, with Southland booking the largest increase of 40%, Hawkes Bay up 35% and Taranaki 29%.

There were 7291 homes sold across the country in February, up 5.7% on a year ago, and the highest number of February sales for nine years.

The national median price was up 4.7%, or $20,000, to $450,000.

REINZ regional commentator Liz Nidd said the only thing that kept the number of Otago sales from being even higher was the shortage of listings - the REINZ website was down by about 200 listings on a year ago.

"The [Otago] market continues apace with a significant increase in sales volume from January to February,'' she said in a statement.

While overall Otago median prices rose just 0.9% on a year ago, up just $2500 to $270,000, North Otago booked an 18.5% gain in prices to $182,750, on the 48 homes sold; which was also well up on the 34 homes sold a year ago.

Dunedin prices rose 10.1% from a year ago to $310,000 and South Otago rose 1.4% to $175,000.

REINZ chief executive Colleen Milne said February's sales underlined the surge of activity in regional markets during the past six months, with numerous regions recording strong increases in sales volumes compared with a year ago.

"All regions recorded double-digit increases in sales volumes compared to January despite the increased number of holidays compared to February last year,'' she said.

In the Lakes region, Mrs Milne said the number of listings "remains very tight'' with a 50% drop in the inventory of houses on the market, compared with February last year.

The median price across the Lakes region was up 14%, or by $66,861, compared with a year ago.

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