New Zealand – Farming Interesting Facts

Articles > New Zealand – Farming Interesting Facts

Farming, Agriculture, Horticulture, Aquaculture and Forestry
No one can dispute the fact that New Zealand is a beautiful country full of natural wonders. This amazing country covers 27 million hectares of which 16.5 million hectares are farmed; dedicating a total of 14 million hectares to pastoral farming.

It’s therefore no surprise that when you drive around the country, you’ll be greeted by kilometre after kilometre of open pastures, orchards, vineyards and farms growing food for the nation and export. For a country with a population of under five million people, the farming industry is exceptionally successful and competes more than successfully on the world stage.

2019 – Top NZ World Export Ranking
1st Milk (21.8% of total milk exports worldwide)
1st Kiwi (51.3% of total kiwi exports worldwide)
2nd Honey (11.5% of world total honey exports)
2nd Sheep/Lamb/Goat
3rd Wool (9.3% of world wool production)
5th Apples (8.1% of world total apple exports)
7th Beef (7.6% of world total beef exports)
7th Wine (3.4% of world total wine exports)
8th Onions (2.9% of world total onion exports)

If we look at New Zealand’s major exports, we can see that nine out of the top ten involve agriculture/farming of one description or another: –

2019 – NZ 10 Top Exports
1. Dairy, eggs, honey NZ$16.20 billion (27.9% of exports)
2. Meat NZ$8.02 billion (13.9%)
3. Wood NZ$5 billion (8.7%)
4. Fruits and nuts NZ$3.3 billion (5.9%)
5. Cereal/milk preparations NZ$2.27 billion (3.9%)
6. Beverages, spirits, vinegar NZ$2.12 billion (3.7%)
7. Fish NZ$1.82 billion (3.2%)
8. Machinery including computers NZ$1.51 billion (2.6%)
9. Miscellaneous food preparations NZ$1.34 billion (2.3%)
10. Modified starches, glues, enzymes NZ$1.23 billion (2.1%)

There are an estimated 51,000 farm holding in New Zealand with an average area of 270 hectares.

The largest farms are obviously livestock farms and 93% of these are owner-managed.

• 27.9 million sheep (June 2019)
• Market size – NZ$3.03 billion
• Number of businesses – 4,749

Dairy Cows
• 6.35 million dairy cows
• Market size – NZ$22.7 billion
• Size of herds – 400 to 1500
• Number of businesses – 15,592

• 3.92 million cattle
• Market size – NZ$4.54 billion
• Number of businesses – 11,483

Pig Farming – 256,00 pigs (pigs are imported to cope with NZ demand)

Deer Farming – 800,000 deer

Australia is New Zealand’s biggest export market for horticultural produce. The total value for this farming section in 2019 was NZ$9.5 billion of which NZ$6.2 billion was from exports.

• Leading fruit export – mainly to Asia
• 15,000 hectares under cultivation
• 545,000 tonnes exported

Wine Grape Production
• 36,300 hectares
• Exports mainly to USA, UK, Canada and Australia

Apples – 9,800 hectares

Cereal Crops – latest figures for 2020 show wheat, barley and oat yields were up 17%

2019 – total grain production for 2018/2019 season – 995,300 tonnes

2019 – wheat, barley and oats for 2018/2019 season – 799,900 tonnes

2019 – maize for 2018/2019 season – 195,400 tonnes

Fishing and Aquaculture
• Market Size – NZ$1 billion
• Number of Businesses – 1,483

• Forestry products export value – NZ$6.4 billion (48% to China)
• Sawn timber and logs, pulp and paper + other wood and wood products

• Agriculture and Horticulture
• Arborist
• Beekeeper
• Crop Farmer/Manager
• Dairy Farmer
• Farmer/Farm Manager
• Dairy Farm Manager
• Sharemilker
• Viticulturist

These details are drawn from the Real Estate Institute monthly reports for August 2020, and focus only on farm sales. The market recorded 136 sales, which is +42% above the same month last year and +37% above the average August over the past four years.

The median price per hectare was $25,657 in August 2020, up +11% from July 2020, but only up +1.2% from August 2019.


Prices range from NZ$5,000 per hectare for marginal forestry land to NZ$200,000 per hectare for highly productive horticultural land in the Bay of Plenty. The average price is quoted as around NZ$20,000 per hectare.


New Zealand offers great opportunities for anyone involved in agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture and forestry. With a robust export market and a growing home market, there’s plenty of room for expansion for South Africans who enjoy a challenge and success.

If you would like to know more about emigrating to New Zealand click here and complete the FREE Immigration Assessment:

New Zealand a great place for families to live life and prosper.