January 31, 2023

Waikato Market Update - Summer 2023

Find out whats going on in the Waikato Market. From dairy and pastoral to regulatory changes, there are a multitude of events and updates that are worth keeping an eye on.

Current Market Update


In summary, supply is high, with a number of properties available over all areas and price brackets. To date there have been a lower number of transactions occur vs historic precedence. Capital availability is high, however significantly higher interest rates, labour shortages, and rising on farm costs are reducing confidence. Regulatory pressures remain.

Waikato Dairy Farm Sales - Annual Sales Volume

Confidence returned to the market last season, with total Waikato sales volume $430,000,000. This increased significantly from the previous years $290,000,000, with 2014/2015 still the bench mark in terms of total volume, with $505,000,000 of assets having transacted.

Waikato Region - Average Dairy Farm Sale Price

The graph above highlights the average dairy farm Total Sale Price (TSP) over time and annual value fluctuations. Prior to last season demand was relatively stagnant, with the market impacted in part by capital constraints. While the graph above shows a considerable decrease in value from the 18/19season to the 20/21 season, we note through this period a number of larger scale tier three farms transacted.

Current Season to 1st January

This season has started off slower than historic data indicates. While its early days, the number of farms having transacted up to 1 January is down approximately 25% vs historic averages. Looking forward, despite the large volume of properties for sale, we expect the volume of transactions to be back on last season. To date, sale prices remain buoyant, with Total Sale Prices back approximately 3.2% on last Season.

Waikato Dairy Sales - Farm Scale Analysis (2005 - 2022)

While the size of Waikato dairy units is increasing gradually year by year, fundamentally the market for sub 100ha farms still comprises over 50% of transactions. A number of these transactions appear to be associated with adjoining or nearby purchasers who have an element of strategic purchase. This can result in a significant variation in perceived value levels, depending on the situation of each potential purchaser.


The pastoral market has been particularly buoyant over the past two seasons. This has resulted primarily from the substantial increase in the value of carbon (NZU’s). Above average product prices has also led to value increases for finishing land. Product prices are currently under pressure which may reduce confidence in the sector.

Waikato Pastoral Hill country farms purchased for Forestry / Carbon between June 2020 and June 2022

Purchasers of farms for conversion to forestry are varied, from private individuals, to corporate and overseas investors. Within the Waikato, approximately 45% of pastoral farm sales over 200ha will be planted in forestry. This equates to approximately 7,500 hectares of land. While we note not all of this land can be planted, with areas of natives included, it provides guidance on the scale of change we are and will experience. Without regulatory intervention, we expect this trend to continue.

Waikato - Pastoral Hill Country Farm Sales 200Ha +

The graph above provides guidance as to the rapid increase in values within this sector. We have observed value appreciation across all asset classes, however the strongest gains have been seen in the steeper, more remote landholdings where there is a carbon/forestry influence. Historically Waikato purchasers have focused on breeding and finishing country, with the distance to processing facilities often making forestry harvest marginal.


On a regulatory front, during September the government released the National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land (NPS HPL). It came into effect on the 17th of October. In summary, the policy statement has the intention of giving Councils more direction on how to map and zone highly productive land, and manage the subdivision, use, and development of this land.

What does this mean?

Land which is classified as class 1 – 3 is deemed “Highly Productive Land”. Within the Waikato, approximately 24.4% of all land is classes 1-3 with this area totaling approximately 580,000 ha. The location of this land is left in green.

If the land hasn’t been already earmarked within planning documents for urban development, it is subject to the policy statement. For development to occur Councils would need to determine that other suitable land is not available, if intensification (including that enabled by the new Medium Density Residential Standards) is not viable or appropriate in other areas.

“At this stage, Surveyors’ and Councils’ are still coming to terms with the implications of the Policy Statement. ”

Subdivision of highly productive land, or a rezone for an urban development or rural lifestyle use, will require a resource consent or a plan change to be undertaken. In the case of subdivision, a person subdividing land will need to demonstrate that the productive capacity of the land will be retained, or that permanent or long-term restrictions on the land mean it is no longer viable for land-based primary production. This will be a challenging task. While initially many people envisaged the policy statement was likely to relate to medium to large scale subdivisions, the policy statement will apply to any subdivision on highly productive soils. The likelihood is that rules regarding the subdivision

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