Two-thirds of all New Zealand construction cranes are now operating in Auckland with most focused on an expanding project list in the central city

Recent updates to our monitoring of major Auckland construction projects has driven the tally to over $47 billion in work planned and underway in the Queen City.

Our’s is a pick-up list, not a definitive one, and only tracks projects of $100 million or more. The recent Unitec/KiwiBuild and WaterCare project updates are key ones. And the urgent Middlemore Hospital remediation is also an impending project recently added.

The impressive feature is the fast growth of the list and its sheer absolute size. Readers are encouraged to contact us with updates or additions (or a heads-up when a project has been completed).

On Thursday consultants and quantity surveyors Rider Levell Bucknall supplied their half yearly update for the number of construction cranes in operation and that confirmed the growth.

The Auckland crane tally rose by +10 to 83 with installations in the period of 33 replacing 23 that were removed.

Nationally, there are 125 cranes in operation at the end of March 2017, up only marginally from the 123 at the end of September 2017, but down from the 132 counted at March 2017.

Apart from Auckland, only Tauranga saw a rise in the number of installed cranes, up +3 from four to seven. Christchurch and Wellington lost -4 cranes each in the period, Queenstown lost two, and Hamilton lost one.

In Auckland, most cranes are in large residential projects with 48 of the 83 units installed on these. But that is two less than six months ago.

Sharp increases in large hotel projects saw them grow from three to seven in the past six months, and a similar increase was recorded in Auckland civil projects, with crane numbers going from two to six.

Most Auckland cranes are either in the central business district or in the central isthmus region.

RLB spokesperson Chris Haines noted: “The largest contributor within the current Auckland crane count is Fletcher Construction which currently have 10 tower cranes.. This is despite their announcement last month that they are pulling out of the Building and Interiors sector due to losses faced on current large National projects. The repercussions and impacts of this exit on the industry and future large projects over $100 mln across New Zealand will be interesting over the next 18 months and we expect to see increased moves from both the Australian and Chinese construction sectors.”

“It will be interesting to see how the new Government policies under Jacinda Ardern’s leadership will impact the buoyant construction sector,” he said. “On the one hand, the Government are seeking to reduce net migration, tighten work and student visas, with an estimated effect of reducing annual arrivals across these visa categories by 20,000-30,000. They are reducing overseas purchasers’ rights and increasing residential investment tax policy which combined may put the brakes on forward investment.“

“However, there will be a likely positive impact on Health sector spending and from policies such as KiwiBuild and the potential for this to add to current Housing NZ planned work whilst not significantly reducing the private sector forward pipeline. The ‘1st three years free tertiary education’ policy may increase demand for student housing accommodation and new education buildings. This will need to be supported by consistent tertiary institutional funding moving forward, which currently remains unclear.” he said.

RLB NZ crane counts

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