Crane numbers drop 8 per cent from 2019 record but 136 giants still dominate skyline: RLB

New Zealand high-rise long-term tower, fixed and crawler crane numbers fell 8 per cent from last year’s record because of closed borders and falling demand for new hotels, according to a study out today.

Quantity surveyors and cost consultants Rider Levett Bucknall said 136 construction cranes were up working on sites in this year’s first quarter, an increase of 13 cranes from late last year but lower than last year’s record.

The business today released the latest crane index which showed a record 148 cranes in last year’s first quarter, down 8 per cent in this year’s first quarter ended today with 136 cranes.

Borders being shut due to the pandemic and reduced demand for new hotel and tourism accommodation had affected numbers.

Chris Haines, an RLB director, said that six months ago, the business had forecast uncertainty and a decline in forward workload and long-term cranes. But things were not as bad as expected.

“We are in a much better position than we’d anticipated, with an increase in cranes sighted in each of New Zealand’s key construction centres, a new peak for residential cranes in Auckland and across the country, as well as a record number of cranes in both Queenstown and Wellington,” Haines said.

Auckland has 78 cranes, Wellington 18, Queenstown 15, Hamilton six, Christchurch five cranes and Tauranga four.

Residential cranes dominate Auckland. In this year’s first quarter 46 new long-term cranes were counted on residential sites. Those represent 59 per cent of all long-term cranes.

Since late last year, 16 new cranes were added while 13 cranes were removed from residential sites.

“There has certainly been a residential surge since last year’s third quarter in Auckland in particular. The impact of the Government’s recent housing policy announcements is uncertain as to whether the strength of the residential construction sector will remain through to 2022,” RLB said.

“There has been a rise in the number of long-term cranes seen on the North Shore with four new cranes commencing. Ten sites now dot the region with long term cranes in Albany, Rosedale, Milford, Wairau Valley, Northcote and Narrow Neck, up from five previously,” RLB said.

Nine of those Shore cranes were working in the residential sector.

New long-term cranes were added on significant Auckland civil sector projects. These include the City Rail Link at Mt Eden station and the Mangere Bridge replacement projects.

Christchurch has 15 long term cranes, including three on the cathedral rebuild. But cranes on the convention centre have been removed.

Dunedin has no cranes but tenders have been called for the $1.48 billion hospital job there which will provide a big boost to the city, RLB said.

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