Sizzling lamb prices, a firm housing market, tourist spending and overflowing building consents have seen Hawke's Bay reach first place on ASB's Regional Economic Scoreboard.

The scoreboard is rated on factors including employment, retail sales, wages, house prices and construction.

Hawke's Bay posted solid numbers across the board according to ASB economics and chief economist Nick Tuffley who said it was the cash registers that rang hot this quarter, with an 8.9 per cent annual lift in retail spending - the highest growth rate in the country.

Record breaking lamb prices are one of the major contributors to Hawke's Bay topping the ASB Regional Economic Scoreboard. Photo / File
Record breaking lamb prices are one of the major contributors to Hawke's Bay topping the ASB Regional Economic Scoreboard. Photo / File

The housing market wasn't far behind with sales and prices both posting double-digit annual gains.

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Building consents also jumped 38 per cent in annual terms for the quarter indicating a solid amount of work ahead.

But one of the biggest booms in the region is record-setting lamb prices.

Hawke's Bay Federated Farmers president Jim Galloway said it had been a long time coming.

"Lamb prices have been quite exceptional, an estimate for an 18 kilo lamb is about $130, the prices may have dropped back slightly during the last week or so, but they're certainly up there," he said.

"The rain we had in the spring right up until January was a huge bonus for farmers and breeders, had it been a drier summer it would have had an effect on prices.

"Beef prices have also been steady to strong as well, so you've got two good products, sometimes when your beef is good lamb is rubbish and vice versa, but this year it's been great."

Bruce Worsnop.
Bruce Worsnop.

Although lamb was a big booster, Tuffley said there were plenty of other contributing factors resulting in Hawke's Bay outshining other regions.

"Fruit is also doing really well and wine exports are continuing to thrive and tourism of course is also doing well.

"We've also had various parts of the country in different stages of the housing market cycle and Hawke's Bay is one of few which has been in pretty good form over the last year.

"You do get the impact of strong house price growth of one region spilling into other areas and in this case Hawke's Bay is tying into that really well."

Tuffley said there had also been pick-up in the issuing of building consents, particularly in commercial investments as a opposed to residential.

"This is a good response to the business prospects which the region has had recently."

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said it was an exciting time for the region.

"We're very excited for our economy and enabling everyone an opportunity in making sure that everybody has a chance to have employment.

"We know that we've attracted a lot of businesses recently to Hawke's Bay so there's huge growth, but we also need to make sure that everyone is engaged in a buoyant economy."

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton was equally delighted with the number one spot.

"I'm certainly not surprised, the Hawke's Bay economy has always been based on commodity prices and tourism and at the moment tourism numbers are going through the roof and I can't think of a time where commodity prices have been better.

"Not only are lamb prices doing well, but onion prices have also gone through the roof as well - I think they've doubled. It's just great that everything is happening at the one time."

Tuffley didn't expect a slowdown anytime soon but said it would perhaps be the house prices which would start to plateau in time.

"Generally they don't get sustained for too long because house prices start to look a little less affordable and that starts to make people a little cautious about paying so much."