Canterbury has outpaced Auckland to gain the top spot in year-on-year growth, as the city's rebuild kicks into action, according to the National Bank's regional trends survey for the March quarter.

Growth was stronger across all 10 of New Zealand's 14 regions, led by Canterbury, up 2.8 per cent, followed by a 2.7 per cent rise in Auckland.

Overall, the survey showed a nationwide economic activity lift of 1.6 per cent year-on-year to March 31.

That is up 50 per cent on the year-on-year growth rate to December 31.


"Canterbury continues to recover from last year's devastating earthquakes," said Steven Edwards from the economics division at National Bank of New Zealand.

"Four solid quarterly increases in economic activity have propelled Canterbury to the top of the year-on-year economic growth rankings."

Canterbury experienced at 4.7 per cent increase in employment in the March quarter, while the number of residential building consents rose 34 per cent, according to data from Statistics New Zealand.

The ANZ's regional job advertisements series for the region hit a record high, up 24 per cent in the December quarter.

Growth was greatest in the South Island, increasing 2.1 per cent, compared with 1.5 per cent in the North.

Wellington was the worst performer, recording a 0.2 per cent decrease in year-on-year growth.

Employment in the capital city fell 0.7 per cent in the March quarter.

ANZ's composite measure of internet and newspaper job advertising also fell to a historic low in February.

Nationwide economic growth increased 0.7 per cent in the March quarter against the December quarter.