A billion-dollar construction boom is revitalising Auckland, reports Anne Gibson.

A record number of cranes have transformed the Auckland skyline, illustrating the city¹s multi-billion dollar upswing in construction.

A report last month revealed 47 cranes were operating in the city and on its outskirts ‹ and more are on the way for the building of apartment blocks, office towers and major projects, including the underground rail link and convention centre.

It is a boom also reaching the rest of the country. 98 cranes are operating around New Zealand, according to the report by consul-tants Rider Levett Bucknall.

Work on the $700 million NZ International Convention Centre, designed to attract international conferences and catering for up to 1000, began in December and is expected to take three years.


This week, one of its architects told an economic summit it would be a world first because it would be open on all sides.

"This will be the first convention centre in the world with no back door. It will be open on all four sides to the street and the city that surrounds its highly urban site, presenting an open face to all who approach," said John Coop, principal and chairman of Warren and Mahoney.

Among other developments are the $250m Sugartree apartments on Nelson St, the Datacom commercial building on Fanshawe St and an $85m office block on Sale St.

And they are just one part of the boom, which expands to the Vinegar Lane development in Ponsonby and major transport and residential building in West Auckland.

"Cranes are a sign of momentum generally and there are certainly more than we can remember on the skyline at present," said Coop.

Importantly, there are also cranes on construction sites around the edges of Auckland ‹ it is not only the centre. The nodes around greater Auckland are seeing investment as well."

Experienced real estate investor Olly Newland warned the city had to grow sensibly. "We may end up with an oversupply of apartments if we¹re not careful. There will be a major levelling off, I would say in the next 18 months."

Large projects that needed tower cranes were sometimes still under construction when the market levelled off, he said.


"Cranes are a sign of the building boom. Those big cranes are only there to build high-rise offices and apartments."

Photographer Nick Reed captured this image from the Wynyard Quarter's gantry.