The Manawatū-Whanganui region is top of the pops in the ASB Regional Economic Scoreboard table - and that's no surprise to Whanganui & Partners' interim chief executive Gaelle Deighton.
"We're not just thriving compared to our neighbours but topping our own previously-held records on consumer spend, visitor spend and house prices," she said.
The ASB Regional Scoreboard breaks down economic data by region based on 11 measures, including employment, construction, retail trade, and house prices.
It ranks the 16 major provincial regions on an index measuring relative movement on a quarterly basis.
The Manawatū and Whanganui region weathered the Covid storm and came out on top this quarter, rising six places to sit at the top of the table.
The ASB attributes the region's rise to the top to an economy strong in agriculture and less dependent on tourism.
Deighton said the regional economy had shown strength and resilience throughout a tumultuous year.
"We also know from the data we monitor around consumer spend, visitor spend, jobseeker numbers and house prices that within the Whanganui-Manawatū region, Whanganui is one of the top performing districts."
Covid-19 has hit other regions harder, the bank's report said.
Nationally GDP is down 2.1 per cent on the previous year, whereas in this strong agricultural region it is down only half that - a 1.1 per cent drop.
Livestock trader David Cotton said Whanganui had a good season compared to drought-stricken Hawke's Bay.
Rain did arrive, and grass grew.
This region is mainly agricultural and farming provides 7.2 per cent of Whanganui District's GDP.
"I think that we are lucky in our industry that we are ticking over okay," Cotton said.
Meat prices are not as high as two years ago, but they are stable and consistent. Lamb is selling at around $7 per kilo and beef at $5.70.
Those are acceptable prices, and farmers can work with them. The fly in the ointment is wool, Cotton said. Ewe wool is selling at $1 per kilo - which means if shearing costs $5000 the farmer only gets $2500 for wool.
The other thing that's helping farmers is the low interest rates, Cotton said.
Most farmers carry a reasonable level of debt and most are feeling reasonably confident.
Though tourist spending in Whanganui has increased recently, it has never been a top earner.
Our Whanganui visitor spend has reduced 6.7 per cent compared to the 2019 average - but not as much as the national average decrease of 12.3 per cent.
Across the region, 7.3 per cent of working age adults are now on Work Ready Jobseeker benefits.
It's the highest rate since 2010 and about mid-range for New Zealand. The number of people on it has increased by 1.4 per cent during the last year, and is staying relatively stable.
The property market is the best it has ever been, Property Brokers Whanganui branch manager Ritesh Verma said. There were a lot of sales in July and August, and there were 20 offers on one property last week.
The number of houses available has decreased from 200 at the end of lockdown to 150, which drives prices up.
"There are plenty of people who want to sell, but they have got nowhere to go."
There are still properties under $400,000 for first home buyers, and at the upper end people are no longer scared off by prices of $700,000 to $900,000.
Verma has the impression business is doing well too.
"I have spoken to all the tradies. Everyone is busy forever."
Whanganui & Partners' own dashboard shows Whanganui consumer spending five per cent higher on August 30 than in the same August week last year - and better than the region average.