Cranes hit record-breaking peak of 140 across main centres in New Zealand

4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 19, 2018

The ongoing construction boom now has an unprecedented 140 long-term cranes across New Zealand‘s cities, and 15 more (+12%) than the last count six months ago, according to the Rider Levett Bucknall Crane Index released this week.

The tenth edition of the RLB Crane Index highlights the strong growth within New Zealand‘s construction industry. Since RLB‘s last edition, 64 new cranes were put in place.

Chris Haines, director of RLB in Auckland, said the level of construction activity remained high across the country.

“Not only will the population and migration surge of recent years continue to support demand for construction across the residential sector, but significant demands remain on commercial, retail, health, education and horizontal infrastructure sectors.”

Auckland continues to be the main driver of the crane count, contributing 64% to the total New Zealand count. Of the 140 cranes sighted across New Zealand, 90 were in Auckland (8.4% increase in 6 months), 22 in Christchurch (+69%), 10 in Queenstown, 8 in Wellington, 6 in Tauranga, 2 in Dunedin and 2 were in Hamilton.

“Christchurch saw a significant jump to 22 cranes this edition, up from the previous 13 cranes. Christchurch‘s crane count had consistently been dropping since 2015 in line with the decline in the city‘s construction workload,” said Haines.

“In this edition however, there has been a net increase of nine cranes (17 cranes newly erected over the past six months while eight cranes were removed).”

Haines said Christchurch‘s commercial and retail sectors have proved buoyant with 14 cranes in total and could indicate Christchurch is emerging up from the bottom of its cycle.

Both Wellington and Tauranga experienced net decreases of one crane each, while Hamilton and Dunedin remained constant with two cranes each. After a slight dip in the last edition, Queenstown has seen an increase in crane numbers, reaching 10.

There are now 57 long-term cranes on residential projects in the main centres. This sector includes both the busy aged care sector and student residential accommodation alongside the private residential sector in Auckland particularly.

“Despite the well-publicised resource capacity issues, the recent announcement of the Ebert receivership, coupled with Fletcher Construction‘s withdrawal from the vertical construction market, Auckland‘s crane count remains on the rise,” said Haines.

Auckland has seen a jump in retail cranes, with four cranes at 277 Westfield in Newmarket, one at Kiwi Property‘s Galleria expansion in Sylvia Park, and one at the Commercial Bay Mall.

The commercial sector remains strong, with significant continued investment from Precinct Properties in Auckland and Wellington, and from Manson‘s in Auckland.

However the health sector crane count has declined significantly, with only a single crane remaining at Christchurch Hospital.

Auckland continues to rise with 86% of residential cranes in New Zealand

Reflecting the buoyancy of the Auckland construction market, Auckland‘s residential crane count remained high, accounting for 86% of all residential cranes in New Zealand and 35% of all cranes nationally. This includes cranes on projects for multi-residential apartments, private residential, student residential accommodation and the busy aged care sector. The impact of ‘KiwiBuild‘ in terms of work put in place is not yet impacting the crane count but this may change into 2019.