NZ crane activity hits record amid construction boom, RLB says
By Tina Morrison
Sept. 15 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand has a record number of cranes operating across city skylines as the country experiences a construction boom, according to the latest RLB Crane Index.
The bi-annual index rose to a record 184 in the third quarter of 2018, up 12 percent from 164 in Rider Levett Bicknall's previous report in the first quarter. The report was RLB's 10th since the index started in 2014. The index measures construction industry workload in key New Zealand cities by counting the number of cranes.
The country's construction sector is in a period of strong demand, underpinned by an expanding population and tourism activity.
"The level of construction activity remains high across the country due to strong underlying demand across nearly all sectors,” said Chris Haines, RLB's Auckland director. “Not only will the population and migration surge of recent years continue to support demand for construction for some time to come across the residential sector, but significant demands remain on commercial, retail, health, education and horizontal infrastructure sectors.”
Auckland, the largest city, leads the country in the number of cranes in operation. It accounted for 90 of the 140 cranes operating, 8.4 percent more than six months earlier. Some 33 new long-term cranes have been positioned on projects, while 26 were removed from projects nearing completion.
Christchurch also saw a significant jump in the latest reading with a total of 22 cranes, up from 13 previously. That bucked a declining trend and may indicate the city is emerging from the bottom of its cycle.
Both Wellington and Tauranga experienced net decreases of one crane each, taking the totals to eight and six respectively. Hamilton and Dunedin remained constant with two cranes each. After a slight dip in the previous survey, the resort town of Queenstown had 10 cranes operating, up one from the first quarter.
Cranes on residential projects have consistently increased since the RLB index began. The latest edition recorded a record 57 long-term cranes on residential projects in the main centres. Those projects span the aged-care sector, student residential accommodation and private residential dwellings.
Despite the receivership of building firm Ebert and Fletcher Construction's withdrawal from the vertical construction market, Auckland’s crane count continued to increase, Haines said.
“Currently, Fletcher Construction accounts for 10 tower cranes, while Ebert Construction’s Union Green site accounts for two. There still remains uncertainty about the impact these changes in the market will have on future crane counts, and for future large projects in Auckland and across New Zealand,” he said.
Haines noted the “bricks and mortar” retail sector appeared to be undergoing an investment boom, reflected in the increase in retail cranes for both Auckland and Christchurch.
Elsewhere, the commercial sector remained strong, but the health sector crane count had declined significantly. Only a single crane remains at Christchurch Hospital.
Whilst significant forward health spend is anticipated, announcements on government forward spending and approval of key health projects and business cases are keenly awaited, Haines said.