Americans have been the biggest buyers of New Zealand land in the past five years although the Chinese topped the list in 2014 alone.

Figures released by Land Information New Zealand of approved investments since 2010 shows a breakdown of buyers by country and by industry.

The figures come amid renewed concern over foreign buyers contributing to rising house prices, particularly in Auckland, and of increasing amounts of farmland heading into offshore hands.

Of the 646,190 hectares sold during the five years, Americans bought the most at 168,154 hectares. UK residents, who headed the list in 2010, came in second over the five-year period buying a total 66,932 hectares, followed by Israel on 52,325 hectares and Switzerland on 36,965.


Chinese buyers came in fifth at 34,908 hectares, although they headed the list with 10,989 hectares bought in 2014, a big jump from just 53 hectares in 2010, and attracted the most criticism.

Chinese company Hunan Dakang Pastoral Farming, 55 percent owned by Shanghai Pengxin has applications in to the Overseas Investment Office to buy the Lochinver Station near Taupo for $70 million which, if approved, would be the second biggest sale of New Zealand farmland to a foreign owner by value and one of the biggest by area. It has also applied to buy Shanghai Pengxin's existing New Zealand farm assets, including the former Crafar Farms, for $375 million and a dairy farm unit near Taupo for $22.75 million.

In all, buyers from more than 50 countries have purchased New Zealand land since 2010 though many for amounts of under 5 hectares.

The figures show forestry and logging was the chief use on the land bought over the period at 329,849 hectares, just under half the total sold.

Agriculture accounted for the next highest amount - 263,924 hectares and then a big jump down to number three on the list - sports and recreation activities at just 21,215 hectares.

The government has said it will wait and see how a planned register of foreign-owned buyers in Australia works out before committing to one here. The Australian farmland register, which was to have been introduced by Christmas 2014, has since been delayed pending further refinement on how it will work and there have also been calls for one on foreign-owned house buyers.