Confidence in our regional economy has grown for the sixth quarter in a row, buoyed by horticulture and tourism.

Thirty-three per cent of respondents to the March Westpac McDermott Miller Regional Economic Confidence survey felt more positive about where the region was headed - a massive surge over the 14 per cent confident in December 2015.

Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens said it was another step up for the region.

"The unemployment rate is down, house prices are rising, growing air travel capacity is making the region more accessible, and the horticulture sector is enjoying a period of growth," he said.


Concerns about El Nino decimating the region's horticulture, meat and wool fortunes largely failed to become reality, and horticulture in particular has been really strong.

Orchard manager Lewis Houkamau said it has been one of the best seasons he has ever seen. "I think there are a few factors for this."

Adequate rainfall has meant no water shortages for many orchardists. Also the cold nights have meant brighter fruit.

"The brighter the fruit, the better it sells," Mr Houkamau said.

Provided the region didn't experience a significant change in the climate, Mr Houkamau said there should be continued growth.

When temperatures exceed 27C, apple trees stop growing to maintain moisture.

"We didn't get too many of these days which was another reason for the great season."

High bee activity also resulted in a strong pollination period and "huge crops", he said.

Even though trees with more fruit sometimes run the risk of a poorer return the following season, Mr Houkamau said there were just as many buds on the trees for next year's yield.

The quarterly survey also measured consumer confidence in the region.

Hawke's Bay residents' consumer confidence edged down seven points to 110.9 but this was still stronger than the national average of 109.6.

Napier mayor Bill Dalton said the Hawke's Bay economy was like a coiled spring waiting to be released.

"For the last two years it has been held back by the amalgamation nonsense but since October 2015, it has sprung into life," he said.

The climate remained the region's biggest attraction, he said.

"That's what produces our pip fruit, our wines, our livestock and our tourism industry."

Mr Dalton said there was absolutely no reason why we couldn't continue to have a positive outlook for the region.

"It's all about attitude. Success breeds success and the Bay is on a roll.

"Increasingly we are seeing people having the confidence to buy houses, start businesses, expand existing enterprises."

Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wayne Walford echoed those sentiments.

Mr Walford said movements in house pricing, easier air travel, more tourists and positive feedback from visitors all pointed towards economic growth. In order to maintain a positive narrative, we needed to continue marketing, Mr Walford said.

"We should be spreading the word in Auckland and Wellington that, along with lifestyle, people can find excellent employment opportunities especially in horticulture, science and innovative manufacturing," he said.