New Zealands Top 10 Regional Economies excluding Auckland

Like most major cities, Auckland attracts the majority of new migrants entering New Zealand to work and live long term. Recently the government in an effort to spread migrants to our regions have introduced new incentives for new arrivals. However, what opportunites are available in our towns around the country and is it enough for them to move there?

Thanks to Statistics New Zealand for supplying the majority of the data on the top 10 economic regions of New Zealand excluding Auckland. In 2014 total Gross Domestic Profit (GDP) for New Zealand was $229.7b with Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury bringing in the lions share of the income as shown below.


1. Wellington (GDP: $30.3bn)


👌🏻😍 #Wellington #wellingtoncity #onfleek #newzealand #stunning

A photo posted by Stephanie Beckett (@stephbeckett) on


According to Lonely Planet, Wellington is the official coolest little capital in the world, what ever that means?! Having never been there myself, I can only take their word for it


  • Wellington is our 2nd biggest contributor to GDP, on an impressive run with an economy that has expanded 17.6% since the Global Financial Crisis of 2009
  • According to Statistics New Zealand (2014) this increase was the result of a growing  financial and insurance services industry
  • Grow Wellington, the economic development agency responsible for implementing strategy for the region outlines the following priority industries:

government and professional services; screen, digital and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT); design and innovation led manufacturing; and tidal energy through to highend food and wine

  • Affordable living; The 2014 Mercer Cost of Living Survey rated Wellington the most affordable city in Australasia, with a median house price of $415,000 comparing to  the median in Auckland of $678,000.

for more info on living, working and studying in Wellington check out

2. Canterbury ($30.2bn)

2014 saw Canterbury placed 3rd to Wellington, the region suffered severe earthquakes from September 2010 to February 2011. The silver lining in this story for the Cantabrians is a 30.9% economic expansion between the 2009-2014, The Christchurch Rebuild helped the local economy in 2012, 2013, and 2014 by: Increasing the construction industry, whilst dropping in every other region in the South Island In 2014, Canterbury’s GDP increased 10.6 percent due to dairy cattle farming and construction. NZ Growth industries from the Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC) include:

Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services increased employee numbers by 19.8 % up from 2013 to 1,210.

Construction increased from 19,470 from 2013 to 22,240, an increase of 14.2%

Professional, Scientific and Technical Services jumped up 10.6% from 14,680 to 16,230.

CDC’s ambitious vision for Christchurch is by 2031 the city is recognised as the best place for business, work, study and living in Australasia. Bold statement from the agency and they have a comprehensive plan for this vision which can be viewed  online  

3. Waikato ($20.6bn)

Here, the Waikato Chiefs had they just won their first ever Super Rugby title in 2012.. the previous season they finished 10th, no wonder they look happy… A heavy weight rugby team with an economy to match. Although Waikato may account for $10bn in GDP less than Canterbury they can be proud of the following:

From 2009–14, Waikato’s economy increased 23.8 percent (above the national movement of 22.4 percent)

During this period the increase was due to the agriculture industry which Waikato made up 19.2% of total NZ GDP in agriculture higher than any region in 2012. Canterbury (18.3) and Southland (10.4)

GDP increased just 0.4 percent in 2013 due to a decline in agriculture, driven by dairy cattle farming. There was a major drought that year that affected the industry

The Chiefs went on to win back to back Super Rugby titles in 2013, they of course celebrated with another haka

The Waikato Economic Strategy Governance Group gives us more detail on the numbers and why Waikato is the 4th largest producer in the country, including

    • Highest milk production and largest dairy processor in New Zealand.
    • Significant Fonterra presence and value added processing
    • Largest processing region for cattle meat exports
    • Largest proportion of plantation forests and significant proportion of major wood processors
    • Second only to Marlborough Sounds for number of aquaculture farms and farmed area.


4. Bay of Plenty ($11.9bn)

Nice walk up #mountmaunganui #bayofplenty A photo posted by liam ^_^ // 18 // Follow (@liamthompson61110) on

  • From 2009–14, Bay of Plenty’s economy expanded 23.2 percent (there seems to be a pattern forming here between these years?)
  • Again agriculture was a major contributor, but also service industries as well inparticular: transport, postal, and warehousing; financial and insurance services; and health care and social assistance.
  • a 3% increase was achieved in 2012 due to the financial and insurance services, and wholesale trade industries. Stats NZ notes that both industries are outside the top 10 traditional contributors to the region’s total GDP.

In May 2015 The Bay of Plenty Regional Growth Study (RGS) was launched to help identify key opportunities that could assist in growing the region economically.

The Bay of Connections website states that the

“The Bay of Plenty’s central North Island location, in close proximity to the large and growing Auckland population base and the fast-expanding Hamilton–Waikato city-region, is a major strategic advantage. The region is endowed with large areas of land suitable for high-yield primary sector production, significant forestry resources, and a long coastline with nutrient-rich waters. The region also has the seventh largest geothermal field, by capacity, in the world. Road and rail infrastructure is generally well developed, and Tauranga is home to a large and efficient international port”

The region also has a significant Māori Economic Development strategy which was launched last year, and is now in its implementation phase. Māori economy is key to the growth of the Bay of Plenty agency; Bay of Connections and contributes to the following sector strategies; aquaculture, forestry, energy, freight logistics and sport and recreation, particularly Rugby Sevens

more information can be found here

5. Otago ($9.8bn)

Otago is the second largest region in New Zealand. It takes up 12% of New Zealand’s land area with a coastline stretching almost almost 470km. Otago has four districts – Waitaki, Central Otago, Clutha and Queenstown Lakes, with Dunedin its largest city

Agriculture is the backbone of Otago’s economy, accounting for around two-thirds of its land use

source: Otago Regional Council 2010

Otago’s economy increased 21.7 percent during the period from 2009 – 2014.  2013 saw a decline in agriculture due to falling product prices, however other industries picked up the slack and the regions GDP increased by 2.4%.

Otago’s GDP increased 6.3 percent in 2014, thanks to dairy cattle farming.  Central Otago key sectors include: Irrigation  Agriculture  Horticulture  Power Generation  Wine & Viticulture  Tourism  Retail & Services  Film

6. Taranaki ($9.2bn)

Ski and surf on the same day in Taranaki! Photo – Conor Lee A photo posted by Venture Taranaki (@taranaki_nz) on

For the second consecutive quarter (June) Taranaki recorded the largest quarterly percentage decline in activity.

ANZ continues to add that Taranaki recorded just a .6% growth in the year to June 2015, the 2 quarters of 2015 saw a decline of growth of -1.6%. In the last three months (to Aug 2015) house prices fell 4.6%, but are still remain 5.7% higher than 2014.

Source: ANZ Regional Trends August 2015

  • From 2009–14, Taranaki’s economy expanded 7.9 percent, below the national average of 22.4 between the same period
  • Taranaki’s economy is heavily reliant on mining which also makes it the least-diversified region in New Zealand.

ANZ also comments on an increase in farm sales up 9.8% and section sales increased 6.3%.

Similar to other regions Taranaki has a bold vision for the future, in this case Taranaki’s Regional Economic Development Strategy 2010-2035 is a plan for the future:

7. Manuwatu-Wanganui ($9.1bn)

Morning poetry ✨ #newzealand

A photo posted by Luiza Coutinho (@gcluiza) on

Stats NZ report From 2009–14, Manawatu-Wanganui’s economy increased 18.1 percent , through this time, Manawatu-Wanganui’s contribution to GDP decreased 0.1 percentage points. From The outlook for economic growth in the region for the next year is positive, with increased tourism spending and stronger population growth the primary factors likely to support increased retail spending and employment.  The lower New Zealand dollar will also be supportive of the manufacturing, sheep, beef and forestry sectors in the region while lower interest rates and the Kiwisaver changes earlier in 2015 year will continue to support an improvement in the housing market

8. Hawkes Bay ($6.4bn)

#napiernow #marineparade on an April day. Lovely for a #coastal walk A photo posted by @napiernow on

From 2009–14, Hawke’s Bay’s economy increased 16.6 percent

The major contributors were agriculture; and rental, hiring, and real estate services. Hawke’s Bay has a large fruit-growing and horticulture industry.

 the second-largest contributor to the horticulture and fruit-growing industry this is due to grapes and pip-fruit in the region.

9. Northland ($5.8bn)

This is Northland. #opononi #hokianga #eighthwondertravel

A photo posted by David Maxwell (@davidewtmaxwell) on

“Northland is a modest regional economy with a lot to offer. It represents approximately 3.6 percent of country’s population with 165,000 people living in the region and over half of those living in the main centre of Whangarei.”

source: Northland Inc

In 2014, the biggest contributor to the region’s GDP was (once again)agriculture was the largest contributor to the region’s GDP increase, which rose 7.8 percent – the largest increase since 2007 when Northland’s GDP increased 9.7 percent.

The following 8 industries have had double digit annual growth between 2013-2014

Heavy & Civil Engineering Construction 17.0%

Beverage & Tobacco Product Manu 14.3%

Finance 13.3%

Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing 12.2%

Petroleum & Coal Product Manufacturing 11.5%

Auxiliary Finance & Insurance Services 11.3%

Polymer Product & Rubber Product Manu 11.1%

Furniture & Other Manufacturing 10.2%

more information: Infometrics

Like many regions in close proximity to Auckland, Northland is enjoying the booming Auckland housing market with Aucklanders looking outside the city for more affordable living . Realestate Institute of New Zealand claiming nearly 40% increase in value in December 2014 on the previous year.

10. Tasman-Nelson ($4.2bn)

In 2014, Tasman and Nelson’s GDP increased 7.8 percent due to the agriculture (mainly horticulture) and manufacturing industries.

A snapshot of the workforce and GDP, supplied by

Regardless of all these stats I think Nelsons major USP is :

The highest recorded sunshine hours in New Zealand

Love sun? move to Nelson

Conclusion: the period between 2009 – 2014 in New Zealand saw the economy expand regardless of major events including Global Financial Crisis, Christchurch earthquake and fluctuating commodity prices and drought. Agriculture and commodity based exports seem to be the major factor contributing to GDP from the regions ie. cattle farming, dairy etc.

In July 2015, the government announced at a National conference in Auckland that immigrants will be granted 20 extra bonus points toward their visas just by living and working in a region outside of Auckland.

These new migrants are reported to be coming from India and China, countries which have major metropolis’ with millions of residents. Auckland most probably pales in comparison is terms of size , so the question must be asked if these new measures are enough encouragement for migrants to consider our regions which have a heavy reliance on agriculture.


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Nicholas Manarangi

After 10 years away Nick and his family are returning to New Zealand. Leaving their busy London lives behind and exchanging it for new challenges in Auckland. Motivated by family and a change in lifestyle.

Nick's Dutch wife is mostly concerned about the quality of NZ chocolate and cheese.Hope we don't disappoint.
connect here

Nicholas Manarangi

After 10 years away Nick and his family are returning to New Zealand. Leaving their busy London lives behind and exchanging it for new challenges in Auckland. Motivated by family and a change in lifestyle. Nick's Dutch wife is mostly concerned about the quality of NZ chocolate and cheese. Hope we don't disappoint.