If proof was needed of a construction bonanza in New Zealand, a new report showing an unprecedented 140 long-term cranes operating countrywide is it.

Auckland boasted 90 or 64 per cent of the total New Zealand crane count, according to Rider Levett Bucknall's latest Crane Index, an increase of 8.4 per cent in six months.

The Christchurch crane count was 22, up 69 per cent on RLB's last edition for the first quarter of this year, Queenstown hosted 10, eight were in Wellington, six in Tauranga and Dunedin and Hamilton had two cranes each.

The crane numbers reflected a continuing high level of construction activity across the country due to strong underlying demand across nearly all sectors, said Rider Levett Bucknall's Auckland director Chris Haines.


New work so far in 2018 was up 7.1 per cent on last year, totalling more than $17 billion, he said. The residential sector remained the dominant sector, increasing nearly 9 per cent to $12 billion.

Haines said a highlight of the latest index was Christchurch's crane count, which had been dropping since 2015 in line with the decline in construction activity, but which had jumped from 13 cranes to 22.

The health sector's crane count had dropped significantly with only a single crane remaining at Christchurch hospital, he said.

Announcements on Government forward spending in this sector and approval of key projects was keenly awaited.

Crane activity in the residential sector showed the highest count on RLB record, with 57 long-term cranes on housing projects in the main centres.

This sector included the aged-care sector and student residential accommodation, alongside the private home sector, particularly in Auckland which accounted for 86 per cent of all residential cranes in New Zealand and 35 per cent of all cranes nationally.

Despite reported resource capacity issues, Ebert Construction's recent receivership and Fletcher Construction's withdrawal from the vertical construction market, Auckland's crane count remains on the rise, Haines said.

Fletcher accounted for 10 tower cranes with Ebert's Union Green site hosting two.

The index suggested the "bricks and mortar" retail sector was experiencing an investment boom, with an increase in retail cranes in Auckland and Christchurch in particular, he said.