Auckland outstrips every United States city with crane numbers and nationally, we have reached at an all-time high, according to the RLB Crane Index out today.

Auckland has 98 fixed cranes, compared with the busiest US city, Seattle with 59, the index found, although Toronto is the busiest in North America with 104 cranes.

Nationally, we have 148 long-term tower, fixed and crawler cranes working as construction activity picks up pace and eight more cranes have been added since the end of last year.

Christchurch has 18 and Queenstown 11 cranes, making them second and third busiest areas.


The index for this year's first quarter showed that 58 new cranes had been erected on projects nationally and 50 cranes were dismantled so overall, national crane numbers rose by eight between last year's final quarter and this year's first quarter.

"This is the highest index since commencement," the latest commentary said.

Quantity surveyors and cost consultants Rider Levett Bucknall says its 11th crane index mirrored the record levels of new building work, up 6.8 per cent to $18b for the year to September 30, 2018.

Chris Haines, a Rider Levett Bucknall Auckland-based director, said Auckland had more cranes than any US city, although New York only measured Manhattan "whereas we measure from Manukau to Albany."

Fletcher Construction still had the highest number of Auckland cranes for any one builder, he said.

Fletcher announced last year it would no longer continue high-rise or vertical projects but it is finishing the many big jobs started before that decision was taken.

Haines said Fletcher had nine cranes on two Auckland's CBD sites: the $703m NZ International Convention Centre and the $1b Commercial Bay where New Zealand's tallest crane was in action.

Precinct Properties said last year its towering Eenie was nearly a quarter of a kilometre tall. The German Leibherr 357 luffing crane was initially only 97m tall but climbed to 225m as the new 39-level tower neared completion. Deane Manley, managing director of NZ Crane Hire, said last year Fletcher Construction built the super crane using a number of mobile cranes including his company's 450 Grove GMK7450 - New Zealand's largest hydraulic crane.


Haines said CMP Construction, headed by Ron Macrae, was the second-busiest builder in terms of crane numbers. It has six cranes up on its sites including the new $300m-plus Alexandra Park apartment projects at Greenlane, he said.

CMP says it is building high-rise apartment blocks at 6 Waikumete Rd and Liverpool St which are both for the philanthropic Ted Manson Foundation, Alexandra Park's block A by the trotting club, Northbridge Retirement Village, Takapuna's Sargeson Apartments and in St Mary's Bay.

Haines said ASX-listed retail giant Scentre Group had five tower cranes on its $790m Westfield Newmarket site of 230 new shops including a new Countdown, David Jones department store, furniture and furnishings store Coco Republic, new dining precinct, Event Cinema, 2800 carparks and 88,150sq m of floorspace.

Hawkins, Ganellen and Mansons TCLM each have three tower cranes, he said.

Some cranes are on top-end residential housing and retirement villages. For example, two tower cranes are working on Ryman Healthcare's new Ngataringa Bay retirement village near Devonport.

Most hired equipment was either Smith Cranes or Tower Cranes New Zealand, although many cranes were directly owned by the construction companies, Haines said, "particularly some of the big long-term crawlers on infrastructure projects."

Kalmar Construction had taken over two cranes hired from Smith Cranes for Arrow International's Auckland student accommodation projects on Beach Rd/Anzac Ave, Haines said. Arrow International Group is in voluntary administration after striking problems on jobs.

Haines said the index counted fixed tower cranes, long-term heavy crawler cranes and long-term mobile cranes.

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"The record levels of construction activity across New Zealand is a good news story but the recent demise of yet another key contractor provides a sign of caution for the period ahead," Haines said, referring to Arrow.

The record 98 long-term Auckland cranes highlighted strong activity continuing, he said.

The index listed new crane sites as including the Britomart hotel, Wynyard Quarter apartments at 30 Madden St by Willis Bond, Watercare at Rosedale, a Pakuranga retirement village, Precinct's hotel extensions at its 1 Queen St office block, Kiwi Property Group's Sylvia Park extensions, work at Dilworth School, Onehunga's Fabric apartments, America's Cup wharfs and bases and Manson's Fanshawe St project.

Haines said resources were being stretched and cranes had to be shifted to meet demand, coming from Christchurch to Auckland after the post-earthquakes rebuild and from overseas, he said.

Australian business Titan - not the Wellington-headquartered Titan - was now active in Auckland, Haines said, buying a new Jaso J265 internal climber luffer crane from Spain for the 38-storey Holiday Inn Express and Even Hotel on the Wyndham/Albert St corner.