RLB CRANE INDEX®

182
-17 (8.5%)

The New Zealand RLB Crane Index® has fallen to 182 index points, a drop of 8.5%. This is the largest drop in the index value since Q3 2019, when the Index fell by 8.9%. This decline was caused mainly by much fewer residential crane commencements on projects in the Auckland region.

RESIDENTIAL CRANE INDEX

223
-95 (29.8%)

The residential index fell for only the second time since its inception. The drop to 223 index points reflects a significant 30% fall. There were 49 long-term cranes across centres nationally, with Auckland’s residential market for vertical projects declining 33%.

NON-RESIDENTIAL CRANE INDEX

167
+14 (9.1%)

The non-residential index reached a new high of 167 points, up 14 points since the last index. The non-residential index of 167 represents a record 95 long-term cranes across all centres. This strong result can be attributed mainly to strong civil crane activity, which now account for over 20% of all cranes across the key centres of New Zealand.

Q3 2023

RLB CRANE INDEX®

NEW ZEALAND

Q3 2023

Highlights

  • Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) celebrates the 20th edition of its RLB Crane Index® in New Zealand (NZ). First launched in March 2014, the index has become a representative metric of construction activity within NZ
  • Falling residential cranes highlight the increasing pressure on new residential projects, especially in Auckland
  • In Auckland, overall cranes are down by 13%. A decline in residential long-term cranes of 33% is partially offset by a 10% rise in non-residential cranes
  • The non-residential index has recorded its highest index value in 20 editions at 167, which represents 95 long-term cranes or 66% of all cranes across the major centres
  • Both Christchurch and Wellington have recorded increasing numbers of long-term cranes
  • Indicators point to further easing in private sector construction demand over the coming years, reflecting the headwinds from higher costs and interest rates. Banks also remain cautious about lending for both residential and commercial property
  • Falling exports, an increasing government operating deficit, and an upcoming October election, all add uncertainty to future government spending

The 20th edition of the RLB Crane Index® highlights a fall of 17 points or 8.5%. This is the largest percentage decline since the index’s inception. According to Stats NZ, overall building activity volume declined by 6.2% quarter-on-quarter for Q1 2023; indicators are that building activity is slowing across most centres in New Zealand.
‘Data is the bedrock of good decisions’, notes the 100th issue of the RLB Forecast Report. Politicians often measure the strength of the economy by the number of cranes in the sky. So, in 2012, RLB in Australia recognised the need for a representative metric of construction activity within a city. The RLB Crane Index® was born.
RLB produced the inaugural New Zealand Crane Index in 2014, with 71 cranes counted across New Zealand. In this, the 20th edition of New Zealand’s Crane Index, 144 cranes were counted, reflecting the maturation of this simple metric. With more than a decade’s worth of data, the index provides a historical picture of construction activity within the seven major commercial centres across New Zealand, together with key sector analysis of those centres. The index has become a barometer for the industry, not just across New Zealand, but within Australia, North America, Hong Kong, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom.
RLB’s combination of on-the-ground knowledge of key developments within New Zealand, coupled with strong industry relationships, enables us to produce accurate data that informs our clients, the media, and the general public, about ‘cranes in the sky’.

The 20th edition of the index demonstrates a net decrease of 13 long-term cranes across New Zealand, following a slowing of crane commencements. This is particularly true of the residential sector; only eight new long-term cranes have been sighted since Q1 2023, and 29 residential cranes have been removed.

Q3 2023

Summary

CityChange
AUCKLAND -13
CHRISTCHURCH 4
DUNEDIN -1
HAMILTON -1
QUEENSTOWN -4
TAURANGA -1
WELLINGTON 3
SectorChange
AGED CARE 2
CIVIC -4
CIVIL -1
COMMERCIAL -1
DATA CENTRES 1
EDUCATION 2
HEALTH 0
HOTEL -1
MIXED USE 3
RECREATION 5
RESIDENTIAL -21
RETAIL 2
Increase in number of cranes
Decrease in number of cranes
Crane numbers steady

Following a record high of 157 cranes in Q1 2023, the seven centres across New Zealand recorded 144 long-term cranes on developments this quarter. 58 cranes were removed from sites, while 45 new long-term cranes were placed on sites. The residential sector saw a net 21 cranes removed from developments, while the non-residential sector saw a net 8 eight new cranes added to construction sites.

According to the most recent RLB Forecast Report, the easing in residential construction demand has broadened from single dwellings to townhouses and flats. Over the past year, the decline in dwelling consent issuance was concentrated in standalone houses, with demand shifting towards medium-density housing amid a scarcity of centrally located land. However, there has also been a decline in consent issuance for townhouses and flats in recent months. This reflects the broad-based decline in demand for house-building as financial conditions in New Zealand tighten. Higher interest rates, tighter access to finance, higher construction costs and falling house prices have reduced the incentive for property developers to bring new housing supply onto the market.

New Zealand’s residential crane index value has fallen for only the second time since its inception. The drop to 223 index points reflects a significant 30% fall and a lack of future pipeline in the short-term. The residential index represents 49 long-term cranes across the centres, with Auckland’s residential market for vertical projects declining.

Q3 2023

Crane Activity

By City

OPENING / CLOSING COUNT COMPARISON

OPENING COUNTMOVEMENTCLOSING COUNT
Q3 2023%NETQ1 2024%
AUCKLAND10365.6%20-33-139062.5%
CHRISTCHURCH148.9%11-741812.5%
DUNEDIN63.8%3-4-153.5%
HAMILTON53.2%0-1-142.8%
QUEENSTOWN159.6%3-7-4117.6%
TAURANGA53.2%1-2-142.8%
WELLINGTON95.7%7-43128.3%
TOTAL157100.0%45-58-13144100.0%

By Sector

OPENING / CLOSING COUNT COMPARISON

OPENING COUNTMOVEMENTCLOSING COUNT
Q3 2023%NETQ1 2024%
AGED CARE106.4%4-22128.3%
CIVIC85.1%0-4-442.8%
CIVIL3019.1%6-7-12920.1%
COMMERCIAL117.0%4-5-1106.9%
DATA CENTRES21.3%2-1132.1%
EDUCATION53.2%4-2274.9%
HEALTH85.1%5-5085.6%
HOTEL42.5%1-2-132.1%
MIXED USE53.2%30385.6%
RECREATION42.5%6-1596.3%
RESIDENTIAL7044.6%8-29-214934.0%
RETAIL00.0%20221.4%
TOTAL157100.0%45-58-13144100.0%