The hammer slammed down at $6.1 million on a Te Puke orchard sold at auction, marking what agents believe to be the largest sale of a gold kiwifruit orchard in the area.
The 6ha premium orchard property with 5.03 canopy hectares of G3 kiwifruit on new Agbeam structures sold under the hammer for $6.135m - or $1.18m per canopy hectare - last Wednesday.
The sale price also allowed $200,000 for the 23.625 per cent shareholding in the amenities block.
The sale of the north-facing block, which produced 20,000 trays per hectare last season, also included the vendor's share (23 per cent) and capital account in the Oasis Kiwifruit Partnership.
The orchard had been owned by Keith Oakley and his family since 1997.
Selling agent Snow Williams of Bayleys Real Estate believed the sale of the orchard was the highest for a G3 orchard.
Keith Oakley had been orcharding for 45 years, owning several kiwifruit orchards in his career since buying his first in 1973.
"I was a bank manager and one Sunday I was busy doing the gardening and I thought, 'What am I doing here mucking around in this garden?'," He said.
"There was a man up the road putting kiwifruit plants in. I thought that would be more profitable than doing my gardening on a Sunday. So I sold my house in town and went orcharding. I bought a caravan, managed a bank and developed an orchard."
Williams said Oakley gave him his first job in 1980 when he worked for the family on the Oakburn Orchard on No 2 Rd for two years.
He said it was the beginning of his career and interest in orcharding.
"I knocked on every door on No 2 Rd and Keith was the only person who rang me back," he said.
Williams said Oakley and his late wife Shirley worked hard to develop the land at No 2 Rd and took pride in their orchard.
"Keith had such a beautiful orchard, [on No 2 Rd] we used to keep it like a park," he said.
In 1997, Oakley bought the orchard at No 4 Rd.
The land had previously been the site for growing lemons for the Schweppes sparkling lemon drink and was developed by Oasis Orchards.
At age 96, Oakley was pleased to have sold his beloved orchard for a good price.
PGG Wrightson Real Estate Te Puke agent Stan Robb said demand was outstripping supply for top quality orchards.
He had just sold two gold kiwifruit orchards, one for $1.15m per canopy hectare and another for $1.17 per canopy hectare.
In the 2017/18 season to April, Robb and his son Chris had sold 15 orchards for $70m but sales prices had jumped since then, he said.
''The orchards that we sold then included the crop so the fruit was on the trees or had been picked. Now they have got to wait until the crop matures, which is six months away.''
A top-of-the-line orchard could fetch $1.1 to $1.2m per canopy hectare, he said.
Zespri communications manager Oliver Broad said Zespri reported an average orchard gate return of $5.47 per tray and $64,127 per hectare for green kiwifruit last month.
The average orchard gate return for gold kiwifruit was $10.28 per tray and $137,865 per hectare.
"These forecasts reflect strong performance across all markets as we strive to meet growing consumer demand," he said.
Broad said the long-term outlook was positive and was reflected in kiwifruit investments.
"At the same time, investors will know that in our sector and across all primary industries, risks such as those posed by weather and biosecurity need to be considered and factored into any future business planning."
New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc chief Nikki Johnson said orchard gate return for green kiwifruit had increased to $59,981 from $30,067 per hectare in the last 10 years and to $114,345 from $60,885 for the gold variety.
"Increases in orchard value are a reflection of the outstanding recovery from the Psa crisis and the strong predicted future growth of the kiwifruit industry, largely on the back of the SunGold variety," she said.
While the future looked bright, Johnson said there were hurdles the industry had to overcome to fulfil forecast demand, which included reducing labour shortages and ensuring growers nationwide had continued sustainable access to freshwater.
"It is imperative the kiwifruit industry manages these topics effectively alongside other risks to ensure that the industry's value continues to grow," she said.
Te Puke Economic Development Group managing director Mark Boyle said the multi-million-dollar sale demonstrated the "incredible" turnaround of the industry since Psa.
"It confirms confidence in the success of the industry and most importantly, the growth of the industry," he said.
"When you have got high confidence in record prices and growing volumes, it predicts certainty and predicting certainty is key."
Boyle said kiwifruit was the biggest economic driver in Te Puke. "Kiwifruit is powering the economy."
Address: 153-181 No 4 Road, Te Puke
Total Land Area: 6.04ha
Canopy Hectare Area: 5.03 can/ha G3 Kiwifruit
Premium orchard property at a total land area of 6.04ha has 5.03 canopy hectares of G3 kiwifruit on new Agbeam structures.
Great growing district
North facing block, at a safe altitude in combination with superb soil type, and good climate ensures that, with continued good husbandry, production will continue to produce the 20,000 trays per hectare it did this past season
Good size fruit and Taste Zespri grades add to an enviable orchard gate return for this property
Included with this sale is the vendors share (23.625 per cent) and capital account in the Oasis Kiwifruit Partnership.
Top five orchards by sale price:
February 2017: 30.1ha orchard in Pongakawa sold for $12.05m ($399,708 per ha)
February 2017: 24.1ha orchard in Pukehina sold for $8.5m ($353,215 per ha)
April 2017: 27.8ha orchard in Te Puke sold for $7.8m ($281,655 per ha)
November 2016: 15.5ha orchard in Paengaroa sold for $7.65m ($493,548 per ha)
November 2017: 7ha orchard in Paengaroa sold for $7.2m ($1,023,614 per ha)
The highest sale price per hectare was:
October 2007: 1.619ha orchard in Te Puna sold for $2.25m ($1.39m per ha)
Source: Real Estate Institute of New Zealand