The Bay's kiwifruit industry is continuing to shake off the effects of vine disease Psa-V, with orchards doubling their value over the past 12 months and strong returns predicted by growers.
In December the Bay of Plenty Times reported that record forecast prices for green kiwifruit had driven up horticulture property sales in the Western Bay of Plenty.
The latest Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) figures, which were released last week, indicate the upward trend was continuing in the Bay.
The figures revealed strong interest in the rural property market nationwide, with the number of farms sales rising more than 20 per cent to their highest in almost four years.
Rural real estate agents said Bay orchard prices were back to pre Psa-V levels, with buyers showing keen interest in orchards over the past six months due to gate returns of up to $200,000 per hectare.
Eves Katikati licensed rural salesman Stewart Couper told the Bay of Plenty Times growing confidence in the kiwifruit industry was behind the strong orchard prices locally.
"I have had more enquiries into kiwifruit orchards and lifestyle blocks than I have in the past three years," he said.
"There were six sold in Katikati alone in December and we are getting good prices for them. One extremely good property almost doubled its rateable value, which was $720,000. It was sold for over $1.3 million.
"The confidence is linked to good orchard gate returns. We have seen an increase of 50 cents per tray, and that adds up when you are pumping out a lot of trays."
Tauranga PGG Wrightson Real Estate salesman Stan Robb said prices for both green and gold kiwifruit land could accelerate further early this year, attracting investors.
NZ Kiwifruit growers president Neil Trebilco said growers were feeling optimistic about the future after the Psa crisis.
"Spring was a key period for growers. We were basically waiting to see how the new variety Gold 3 would go.
"It is doing pretty well and we believe we have a long future with it, which is part of the reason we are seeing good orchard prices again. The kiwifruit industry is poised to grow strongly and steadily again and we are noticing a lot of orchards changing hands."
A total of 1746 farms were sold nationwide in the year to December 2013, the highest number since the year to February 2009, according to Reinz.
The figures show 292 more farms were sold in the December quarter, compared with the same 2012 period.
REINZ's all farm price index, which adjusts for differences in farm size, location and farm type, rose 4.9 per cent in December, compared with December 2012.
The REINZ report also showed the lifestyle property market rose with 6591 sales last year, up 13.8 per cent on 2012.
The national median price for lifestyle blocks rose by $30,000 (+6.1%) from $490,000 to $520,000 to reach a new record high.