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Livestock Forestry & Horticultural Trends: Regions

3 June 2003 – For immediate release

Livestock, Forestry and Horticultural Trends

The final results of the 2002 Agricultural Production Census – a joint survey by Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) – have recently been released.

This latest release of data includes regional information and some of the key regional trends and statistics (comparing the 2002 statistics with those of 1994) are covered in this document.


The census confirmed the dramatic rise in avocado plantings in Northland between 1994 and 2002. The area under avocados totalled 900 hectares in 2002, up 600 hectares from 1994. New Zealand-grown fruit is selling well on the Australian and USA markets. The emergence of avocado oil provides growers with another sales option and it makes use of smaller fruit that is more difficult to sell on the fresh fruit market.

Oranges totalled 100 hectares in 2002, down by 50 percent on 1994. The area in lemons increased to 200 hectares in 2002.

The lemon and avocado industries are now supported by supply chains with packhouses, processing plants and marketing structures that specialise in these crops. This development reflects the increasing maturity of the horticultural industry in Northland.

The area harvested in squash dropped by 90 percent from 1,000 hectares in 1994 to 100 hectares in 2002. Total land in horticulture declined by 17 percent from 1994 to 2002 to 5,000 hectares.

Pastoral farming is very significant in Northland, and the census showed that there were 516,000 hectares of grazing, arable, fodder and fallow land in 2002. Grazing land fell by 100,000 hectares from 1994, and some marginal grazing land was converted to planted production forest and native bush.

Planted production forest totalled 193,000 hectares as at June 2002, up 45,000 hectares on 1994. Other land, comprising mainly native bush, increased by 23,000 hectares from 1994 to 121,000 hectares in 2002.

Total beef cattle numbered 468,000 in June 2002, down 18 percent on 1994. Total dairy cattle numbered 405,000 in 2002, up 13 percent on 1994, while the breeding herd increased by 7 percent to 298,000 cows in June 2002.

The Northland sheep flock declined by 36 percent from 1994 to 522,000 in 2002. In contrast, deer numbers increased by 28 percent to a total of 23,000 as at June 2002.


Urbanisation has introduced significant changes to land use in Auckland. As a result, horticulture has moved towards more intensive, high value crops, while livestock numbers fell sharply.

Wine grape plantings leapt from 300 to 800 hectares - an increase of 167 percent.

Avocado plantings also increased in the Auckland region – up 100 percent, with the area planted increasing from 100 to 200 hectares.

Plantings of apples fell by 67 percent, from 600 to 200 hectares.

Auckland now has 300 hectares planted in olives.

The Auckland region has shown a drop in outdoor tomato plantings, but indoor hothouse tomato plantings rose by 54 percent, from 646,100 square metres to 994,000 square metres.

Planted production forest increased by 24 percent, from 42,000 hectares to 52,000 hectares.

Sheep numbers dropped by 26 percent, from 498,000 to 368,000. Dairy cattle numbers dropped by 11 percent, from 169,000 to 150,000, while beef cattle numbers dropped by 20 percent, from 214,000 to 172,000. The total deer population dropped by 38 percent, from 34,000 to 21,000.


Total dairy cattle numbers increased by 16 percent, from 1,438,000 to 1,663,000, while the number of dairy cows in milk increased by 11 percent to 1,270,000 in 2002. Numbers of beef cattle dropped by 23 percent from 870,000 to 667,000.

Sheep numbers declined by 28 percent, from 3,606,000 to 2,592,000. Deer numbers dropped by 12 percent, from 162,000 to 142,000.

Wine grapes have proved to be a growth crop in the Waikato, rising from 100 hectares planted in 1994 to 200 hectares planted in 2002 – a jump of 100 percent.

Pipfruit plantings decreased, with apples down 57 percent to 300 hectares.

The Waikato is a significant producer of onions, with 1,800 hectares in 2002. The area in onions has remained relatively static between 1994 and 2002.

Bay of Plenty

The total land area in agricultural production in the Bay of Plenty decreased by 10 percent from 668 hectares in1994 to 600 hectares in 2002. Much of this former agricultural area is now being used for residential accommodation and recreational lifestyle blocks.

In 2003 some two-thirds of land in horticultural production was planted in two crops, kiwifruit and avocados. Further, the industry was now more diverse than in 1994, with new plantings in wine grapes, olives and onions.

Land under avocados doubled, from 800 to 1,600 hectares in 2002. The increase in avocado area has occurred on the back of strong export returns for avocados from Australia and the USA. The avocado industry is expecting a significant increase in exports as new trees come into production.

Kiwifruit plantings increased by six percent, up from 8,100 hectares in 1994 to 8,600 in 2002. This increase occurred despite vine removals because of poor returns in the mid-1990’s, and because of residential development.

Apple plantings remained roughly static at 100 hectares.

In 1994 some 500 hectares were devoted to squash, but by 2002 production had reached very low levels.

The area in grazing declined by 14 percent to 245,000 hectares in 2002, partly because of the expansion of production forestry which was up seven percent to 267,000 hectares.

Dairy cattle numbers increased by 16 percent, from 286,000 in 1994 to 331,000 in 2002, while beef cattle numbers dropped by 18 percent, from 165,000 to 135,000. The increase in dairy numbers reflects conversions from drystock farming to dairy production over the past eight years.

Sheep numbers dropped from 620,000 in 1994 to 389,000 in 2002 - a drop of 37 percent. Deer numbers dropped by 11 percent, from 82,000 to 73,000.


The total number of dairy cattle increased by 117 percent from a small base of 6,000 to 13,000. The total number of deer increased by 13 percent, from 23,000 to 26,000.

Total sheep numbers dropped by 20 percent, down from 2,089,000 to 1,679,000, while total beef cattle numbers dropped by 11 percent, from 351,000 to 313,000. These decreases probably reflect conversions to forestry.

Between 1994 and 2002, the area in planted production forest increased by 64 percent, from 89,000 hectares to 146,000 hectares.

Wine grape plantings in the Gisborne region went up 42 percent, from 1,200 hectares to 1,700 hectares.

The area under oranges fell by 25 percent, down from 400 hectares to 300 hectares.

Hawke's Bay

Between 1994 and 2002 the total area in vineyards in Hawke's Bay more than doubled from 1,800 hectares to 3,800 hectares. In 2002, this region accounted for some 22 percent of the wine grape area in New Zealand.

There has been an expansion in intensive vegetable crops because of the presence of two large operators in the region. As a result, onion plantings rose by 300 percent, from 100 to 400 hectares.

Squash production increased from 2,000 hectares in 1994 to 2,800 hectares in 2002 – an increase of 40 percent.

From 1994 to 2002, the total number of sheep fell by 11 percent from 4.3 million to 3.8 million.

The total number of dairy cattle increased by 178 percent to 89,000, and total beef cattle increased by six percent to 556,000.

The total area in grazing reduced by eight percent from 1994 to 715,000 hectares in 2002.


Between 1994 and 2002 total dairy cattle numbers increased by nine percent from 599,000 to 652,000, while the number of dairy cows in milk increased by six percent to 499,000.

There were significant drops in the numbers of beef cattle, deer and sheep. Beef cattle numbers dropped by 27 percent, from 173,000 to 127,000. Deer numbers fell by 42 percent, from 19,000 to 11,000. Sheep numbers declined by 28 percent, from 967,000 to 698,000.

The total area under planted production forest increased by 75 percent, from 16,000 to 28,000 hectares.

The total area in hothouse tomatoes increased by 95 percent, rising from 7,700 square metres to 15,000 square metres.


Total sheep and beef numbers declined by 12 percent. In 1994 there were 7,500 sheep, falling to 6,600 in 2002, while beef cattle numbers dropped from 825,000 to 726,000.

The total number of dairy cattle increased by 35 percent from 308,000 to 417,000. The number of dairy cows in milk increased by 27 percent to 297,000. Deer numbers also increased, from 129,000 to 145,000, a 12 percent rise.

The total area in planted production forestry increased by 68 percent to 141,000 hectares.

Apple plantings declined sharply in Manawatu-Wanganui.

The area in onions rose from 100 to 300 hectares. Squash now covers 700 hectares, up from 300 hectares in 1994. The region’s indoor tomato area rose from 22,300 square metres to 36,100 square metres.

In 2002 the area in wheat was down to 1400 hectares, a 61 percent decline from that of 1994. The area in barley declined by 32 percent to 5300 hectares.


Wine grape plantings increased markedly in the Wellington region, with 800 hectares planted in 2002, compared with 200 hectares in 1994.

The Wellington region also had 300 hectares planted in olives in 2002.

The total area in potatoes remained roughly static at 100 hectares.

Beef cattle numbers dropped by 15 percent from 213,000 to 181,000, while total sheep numbers dropped by 18 percent from 2,200,000 to 1,813,000.

The number of dairy cattle increased by 32 percent, from 84,000 to 111,000, while the number of dairy cows in milk increased by 24 percent to 78,000.

The area in planted production forest increased by 68 percent, from 41,000 to 69,000 hectares.


In the Tasman region, wine grape plantings increased from 100 hectares to 500 hectares.

The total area in pipfruit fell, and the area in apples decreased by 12 percent to 3000 hectares.

The number of sheep in Tasman dropped by 16 percent, from 425,000 to 355,000. Beef cattle numbers dropped by 23 percent to 49,000, while the total number of dairy cattle increased by 37 percent to 67,000.

Deer numbers dropped by 14 percent from 36,000 to 31,000.

In Tasman, the area in planted production forests increased by 20 percent, from 84,000 to 101,000.

West Coast

The total number of dairy cattle grew by 58 percent, from 79,000 to 125,000. Beef cattle numbers declined from 68,000 to 39,000, a 43 percent drop.

Deer numbers rose by 27 percent, from 26,000 to 33,000. However, total sheep numbers were down by 57 percent, from 217,000 to 93,000.


Wine grape plantings increased significantly in Marlborough, rising from 3,000 to 7,500 hectares, a 150 percent jump. Marlborough has the biggest wine grape growing area in New Zealand, with nearly twice the total wine grape area of the Hawke’s Bay.

Plantings of apples fell by 57 percent to about 300 hectares in 2002.

Marlborough had 500 hectares in olive plantings in 2002, the second largest olive producing area in New Zealand.

Marlborough’s squash industry appears to have died, with a near 100 percent drop in plantings, from 200 hectares to almost none.

In Marlborough, the total number of dairy cattle increased by 43 percent, from 23,000 to 33,000, while the number of dairy cows in milk increased by 35 percent to 23,000. The deer population rose from 19,000 to 23,000. However, the total sheep population dropped by 18 percent from 955,000 to 785,000, probably due mostly to the expansion of forestry in that region.

There was a 20 percent increase in production forestry to 67,000 hectares, mostly in pine.


Total dairy cattle numbers in Canterbury increased by 156 percent, from 212,000 in 1994 to 543,000 in 2002, while the number of dairy cows in milk increased by 147 percent to 395,000.

Total beef cattle numbers were up by 11 percent on 1994, and totalled 505,000 in 2002. Over the same time, deer numbers increased by 59 percent, from 259,000 to 412,000. However, the sheep flock declined by 20 percent, from 10,000,000 in 1994 to 7,800,000 in 2002.

Canterbury's vineyards increased from 300 hectares in 1994 to 700 hectares in 2002. The total area in apples declined by 84 percent, from 1,900 hectares to 300 hectares.

Onion plantings totalled 900 hectares in 2002, up 200 hectares on 1994. The total area in potatoes stood at 4,000 hectares, compared with 2,500 hectares in 1994.

The arable industry has concentrated in Canterbury, with 84 percent of New Zealand's wheat production coming from this region in 2002. The area in wheat totalled 35,300 hectares in 2002.

Planted production forest totalled 108,000 hectares in 2002, up from 88,000 hectares in 1994.


In Southland the area in potatoes remained roughly static at 200 hectares, while in Otago the area in potatoes dropped from about 300 hectares to 200 hectares.

The area sown in wheat also declined. In Otago there was a 24 percent drop in wheat area, to 1,600 hectares. In Southland there was a 16 percent drop to 2100 hectares. However, the area in barley increased in both Otago and Southland to 8,000 hectares and 6,600 hectares respectively.

In Southland, there was a 22 percent increase in planted production forest to 71,000 hectares.

In Otago, the total number of dairy cattle increased by 150 percent, from 82,000 to 205,000. Sheep numbers dropped by 20 percent, from 7,636,000 to 6,121,000. The number of deer grew by 116 percent, from 91,000 to 197,000.

Meanwhile, in Southland, total dairy cattle numbers grew by 212 percent, from 114,000 to 356,000. Sheep numbers dropped by 24 percent, from 7,851,000 to 5,951,000. Deer numbers grew by 88 percent, from 185,000 to 348,000.

For further information please refer to the Statistics New Zealand Hot off the Press information paper and visit the MAF web site at


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