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Growing Up - A Profile Of Horticulture In NZ

Growing Up - A Profile Of Horticulture In New Zealand


Horticulture was the fourth largest contributor to New Zealand’s total exports for the year 2000. Provisional export data for the year ended March 2001 shows that the value of fruit and nuts, vegetables, wine, and plants and trees was $1.9 billion (up 9 per cent on the previous March year.)

Land under horticultural production now totals 128,712 hectares. It has gone up by 28 per cent since 1994 when the last horticultural census was held.

The increased export performance is the result of a number of factors including exchange rate changes, increasing output of some products, and economic growth amongst our trading partners.

In area planted, the main changes included wine grapes, avocados and cherries, which all went up significantly, while pears, persimmons and apricots dropped significantly.

Onions, carrots and potatoes showed increases in the area planted from 1994 to 2000. Many of the crops grown indoors also increased significantly in area. Cucumbers, capsicums, mushrooms, nursery crops and other indoor crops more than doubled. Kiwifruit

Kiwifruit is currently New Zealand’s biggest horticultural export. The value of fresh kiwifruit exports increased by 70 per cent, from a value of $345 million in 1994 to $588 million for the March 2001 year. The volume of kiwifruit exports, over the same period, went up only 11 per cent.

There has been little change in the area planted in kiwifruit. As at June 2000, 12,184 hectares were planted in kiwifruit.


Olive growing has made a significant presence in the horticulture scene of New Zealand in recent years. The number of olive growers in New Zealand has jumped from an estimated 30 in 1994 to over 500 in 2001.

There were 1,174 hectares under olive production as at June 2000. Olive groves tend to be small in size, portraying the lifestyle aspect of many plantings.


The quantity of fresh apples exported increased by 86 million tons from the 1994 total to 310 million tons for the year ended March 2001. The export value for apples, over the same period, has grown less dramatically from $335 million in 1994 to $369 million. However, there was a decrease in export earnings of $116 million for the period 2000-2001, due to lower international prices.

Braeburn and Royal Gala are currently the main export earners, representing over 69% of the total export crop. Older varieties such as Red Delicious and Granny are decreasing in proportion to the total crop.

The area of apples also decreased, from 15,257 hectares in 1994 to 14,114 hectares as at June 2000.

Wine grapes

The area planted in wine grapes has gone up by 77 per cent since 1994, and increasing quantities of wine have been exported, especially to the UK. In June 2000 it was estimated that 12,665 hectares were planted in wine grapes, compared to 7,160 hectares planted in 1994.

Wine exports have expanded from a mere $17 million in 1994, to $201 million currently.


The hectares planted in avocados almost doubled over the period from June 1994 to June 2000. In 1994 there were 1,375 hectares of avocados planted and by June 2000 this had increased to 2,646.

The export value of avocados has increased dramatically, from $6.5 million in 1994 to $26 million in the year ending March 2001.

The quantity of avocados for export has also increased. In the March 2001 year, 6,272 tonnes of avocados were exported, an increase from the June 1994 year when 1900 tonnes were exported.


The area in cherries doubled over the period from 1994 to 2000. The area planted as at June 2000 was 535 hectares.

The value of export receipts jumped from $2.8 million in 1994 to $7.7 million for the year ended March 2001. The higher return in 2001 comes after two bad years when rain damage split the fruit causing a significant reduction in income for growers.


Onions are another big growth area. In June 1994, 4,929 hectares were harvested, increasing to 7,044 hectares as at June 2000.

Export values for fresh onions have also increased from $76 to $90 million for the year to March 2001. Export volumes increased from 124,260 tonnes in 1994 to 203,282 in 2001.

Outdoor tomatoes

The area used for harvesting outdoor tomatoes has decreased because one of the key processors relocated offshore in the mid-1990s, and the fresh market has increasingly been met by tomatoes grown in greenhouses and imports from Australia.

In June 1994 the area planted in tomatoes was 2,394 hectares and this had fallen to 723 hectares as at June 2000.

The quantity of imported processed tomatoes (“processed” being defined as preserved whole or in pieces, but not in vinegar) has increased from 4,424 tonnes in the March 1994 year to 7,114 tonnes in the March 2001 year.

Indoor tomatoes

The area used for growing indoor tomatoes increased by 8 per cent from 149 hectares in June 1994 to 160 hectares at June 2000.


Hectares planted in tangelos dropped by 43.4 per cent – from 295 hectares in June 1994 to 167 hectares in June 2000.

Nashi Pears

There was a big decrease in area planted in nashi pears between June 1994 and June 2000. In 1994, 418 hectares were under nashi pear production. By 2000 this had dropped to 186 hectares – a 55.6 per cent decline. Income from nashi pear exports was $829,350 for the year March 2001. Horticultural trends – region by region


Avocados have been Northland’s biggest growth crop. In 1994, 331 hectares were under avocado, by June 2000 this had increased to 837 hectares. Mandarins have also shown significant growth – up from 282 hectares in 1994 to 377 hectares in 2000.

The area planted in oranges has, however, declined significantly – from 242 hectares in 1994 to 143 in 2000. Area planted in kiwitfruit has halved, over the same period, from 1,382 hectares to 638 hectares.


The Auckland region produces large quantities of vegetables, especially onions, potatoes and green vegetables. Onion areas increased from 1,723 ha in 1994 to 2,801 in 2000. The area in potatoes and green vegetables also increased over the period.

The area in kiwifruit has declined slightly from 646 hectares in 1994 to 562 hectares in 2000. The area in apples has declined from 600 hectares to 221 hectares, whereas mandarins have increased three-fold from 62 hectares in 1994 to 186 hectares in 2000.

This region is the country’s main indoor flower producing area – 1,034,877 square metres of indoor flower crops are grown here. The area has increased from 657,544 square metres in 1994. Proximity to an international airport and better flight schedules have led to this growth.


Onions and potatoes are this region’s biggest crops. The area in onions in 2000 was 2,291 hectares, up slightly on 1994’s figure of 1,723. Hectares under potatoes last year totalled 1,721 hectares and showed a small decline when compared to June 1994. It is estimated that there are 751 hectares under kiwifruit.

The Waikato is the country’s major blueberry growing region, with 289 hectares in 2000, down slightly from 300 hectares in 1994. The region also has the largest area under asparagus with 590 hectares, up from 563 hectares in 1994.

After Auckland, the Waikato region is the second largest indoor flower producing area in the country – 310,132 square metres. This is an increase from 240,807 square metres in 1994.

Bay of Plenty

The growth of kiwifruit is increasingly concentrated in the Bay of Plenty. Te Puke - with its giant kiwifruit that greets visitors - is famous for being the “kiwifruit capital” of New Zealand. The Bay of Plenty region has 8,892 hectares under the crop. In 1994 8,101 hectares were under kiwifruit. Seventy-three per cent of the total kiwifruit area is found in this region.

Avocados are the second-biggest fruit with 1,475 hectares planted – that’s nearly twice the 774 hectares recorded for 1994.

Mandarins are also prominent in the Bay of Plenty – declining slightly from 119 hectares in 1994 to 108 hectares in 2000.

Asparagus is the most prominent vegetable grown in this region - 240 hectares as at June 2000.


Squash, sweetcorn and wine grapes are the biggest horticulture crops in this region. Apples are prominent too.

Hectares in sweetcorn have declined from 2,185 in 1994 to 1,666 in 2000, while the area in wine grapes has grown from 1,245 hectare in 1994 to 1,737 in 2000.

There has been a significant drop in the outdoor tomato area grown. In 1994 there were 1,580 hectares under tomatoes. This has declined, although the 2000 figures are confidential due to the small number of producers in the region.

Hawke’s Bay

This area grows about half of the apples in the country – 7,086 hectares, an increase from 6,179 hectares in 1994. The area planted in wine grapes have also increased with 3,126 hectares under production, compared to 1,756 in 1994.

Hawke’s Bay had the largest area in sweetcorn in the country in 2000. The area in 2000 of 1,826 hectares was almost 38 percent larger than the 1,322 hectares recorded in 1994.

Just over 10 percent of total olive plantings, 131 hectares, are in the Hawke’s Bay.

Tasman (Nelson)

This is the second largest growing region for apples. The apple area measures 3696 hectares, which is similar to 1994 figures. Combined with Hawke’s Bay, these two regions account for over 75% of the national crop.

Olives are becoming a significant crop. There are now 130 hectares under olives in the Tasman District.


Wine grapes are Wellington’s biggest fruit crop with 427 hectares under production in the Wairarapa. Olives are also a significant new crop with 94 hectares currently being grown. This is the fourth biggest olive growing region in the country.

Apples are the other significant crop - 260 hectares as at June 2000.


Wine grapes dominate the region with 4,881 hectares under vines –up from 2,929 hectares in 1994. This is the largest regional area of wine grapes in the country. This is also the biggest region in the country for olive production with 330 hectares under production.

Peas, garlic and sweetcorn are crops of significance in this region.


This region had the biggest area in potatoes and peas in the country in 2000 – 4,008 hectares were under potatoes and 4,611 under peas. Potato processing has become an increasingly important end use for the crop. Wine grapes are gaining significance and are now Canterbury’s biggest fruit crop with 633 hectares under production – that’s twice the area planted in grapes in 1994. The other significant fruit crop in this region is blackcurrants. Canterbury is the second-biggest region for olive growing in the country – with 299 hectares under production.

Indoor flowers are also significant in this region – 205,194 square metres – up from 188,245 square metres in 1994.

There has been a significant decline in apple growing. In 1994 there were 1,856 hectares. Now there are 477 hectares under production, and all for local consumption.

Otago and Southland

Apples, followed by apricots and wine grapes are most prominent in this region. Other significant crops are cherries and nectarines. The area planted in apricots has declined slightly since 1994 – down from 492 hectares to 423 hectares, while the area planted in grapes has increased from 149 hectares to 421 hectares.

Cherry orchards have almost trebled in area – from 123 hectares in 1994 to 320 hectares in 2001. Otago is the main growing area for cherries in New Zealand.

For further information visit the MAF website at


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