Whanganui looks set to become the next developing kiwifruit region.
Kiwifruit post-harvest operator and grower Apata is on the hunt for land to plant green and red kiwifruit.
Its chief executive, Stuart Weston, said the company had recently bought 60ha for new plantings, adding to the 70ha Apata has had growing there for decades.
He said Apata is now pushing to get about 200 more hectares over the next season or two.
"That would be a nice critical mass size to support a management team and infrastructure down there to make it a really viable industry," he said.
Weston said Whanganui's beautiful free-draining volcanic soils and plentiful water make it an ideal growing region.
He termed it a great area with top people.
"[It's] quite a complementary seasonal labour peak with the association with the freezing works down there."
Land in the country's main kiwifruit growing area, the Bay of Plenty, is starting to run out and as a result Weston says more marginal areas are being developed.
"And yet the whole time we've had this long association with Whanganui and as we've looked closer at it we've been impressed with what we've seen," he said.
Weston said Apata wants properties very close to Whanganui city, and would either buy the land or help existing owners change land use.
He said the company is "agnostic" either way and it would not matter if it owned the land or ran it with others.
"We do have a lot of investors who are looking to invest in orchard developments, however our performance [in Whanganui] till now it's been the locals that have retained the ownership of it and we've continued to partner with the locals."
Weston said the fruit will be trucked to Apata's Bay of Plenty facility for packing, and once developed the land would produce up to three million trays.
At present Apata packs about 15 million trays a season.
He said green fruit will be grown because the money needed to buy a licence to grow Sun gold, G3, is uneconomic.
The rush into gold has seen green kiwifruit somewhat overlooked but he said it packs a huge health punch in a single fruit that's still in demand.
New Zealand's very first kiwifruit were planted in Whanganui.