Wellington office space is in short supply after the Kaikoura quake significantly damaged a large number of the capital buildings.
Colliers International's first post-quake survey has found office space in the city is at a six-year low, dipping below 10 per cent for the first time since December 2010, to 7.8 per cent (108,300sqm) in January.
This was down from 10.5 per cent (154,536sqm) in December 2016, according to data gathered before to the damaging 7.8-magnitude quake which struck last November 14.
CBD office leasing specialist Steve Maitland said the quake had left an acute shortage of available spaces for businesses in the capital.
"Immediately after the quake, a number of large organisations suddenly lost a vast amount of office space. BNZ and Statistics New Zealand alone almost lost 28,000sqm, enough for more than 2000 staff."
Last December it was reported at least 16 buildings were damaged in the quake, representing a total of 11 per cent or 167,300sqm of Wellington's office stock.
The report based on research done by commercial real estate company CBRE found 47 per cent of this was what it classified as "prime quality stock".
The Inland Revenue Department was among the worst affected, losing 28,000sqm of office space after the Asteron Centre closed down.
Amongst the other top companies to lose space were major government entities and big corporates, including Vodafone, BNZ, Statistics New Zealand, the NZ Defence Force and the Greater Wellington Regional Council.
Maitland described the situation immediately after the quake as "absolute bedlam". In his 20 years in the business he said he'd never experienced such a busy period.
"The phone never stopped ringing."
He said another wave of demand was hitting after the Wellington City Council ordered more seismic tests on 80 buildings last month, leading to a number of businesses looking at options for relocation.
Maitland said displaced businesses were also still desperately looking for space but the options were limited.
"Wellington is full," he said. "You could put up a sign saying, 'the inn is closed' that's how constrained the supply is."
The shortage was particularly acute for organisations of more than 70 people that would require 1000sqm or of floor space.
"They're all finding out very quickly that there aren't many options out there. There's a real lack of large floors and contiguous spaces."
However, Maitland said there was relief in sight. A new 14-storey tower at 20 Customhouse Quay was due to be completed later this year, while a new PWC Centre at 10 Customhouse Quay would be completed by mid-2018.
"When those projects are complete, office space will become available in the tenants' old buildings. But the real issue is the here and now. It's like a game of musical chairs."