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Buller’s economy holding its own in a challenging economic climate

16 May 2024

The Buller District’s economic activity remains strong, according to the latest Infometrics Quarterly Economic Monitor. 

Buller’s provisional GDP grew 1.5% in the year to March 2024, well ahead of the West Coast region on 0.3% and the national average of 0.2% growth. This is due to a strong mining sector and the continuing recovery of the tourism industry. 

Employment for residents living in Buller rose 1.3%, considerably less than for the West Coast region (2.5%) and New Zealand overall (2.9%). Mining, healthcare and social assistance and hospitality/food services all gained staff, but these employment increases were offset by losses in the retail trade and agriculture sectors.      

The Buller District’s dairy payout for the 2023/2024 season is expected to be approximately $116 million, $5 million lower than last season, assuming that production levels from last season are maintained. This mirrors the national trend, with the total dairy payout for New Zealand expected to be $625 million lower than last season. 

Tourism data indicates a steady recovery in the industry, with the total guest nights spent in Buller sitting at 342,600, an increase of 12.9% in the year to March 2024 compared to the previous year and slightly above the rate of 11.5% for the whole country. 

International visitors were largely behind the national increase, with strong arrivals from Australia, the USA and China over the summer months. Countrywide, domestic guest nights are down 2.3% this quarter as a result of the rising cost of living and stronger numbers of New Zealanders with the means for overseas travel departing for international destinations.   

Electronic card consumer spending is up 7.7% across the West Coast in the year to March 2024, with Westland showing the biggest increase of 13.8%, Buller up 5.6% and Grey District on 4.1%, compared with 2.8% nationally.  

The Buller District’s average current house value increased 4.3% to $366,849 in the year to March 2024, exceeding the national increase of 1.9%. The average house value for the West Coast region is $410,682 while the New Zealand national average sits at $933,633. Housing affordability, (calculated based on the ratio between mean house values and mean household incomes) stands at 3.6 for the Buller District versus 7.0 for the whole of New Zealand.   

Buller District Council Mayor Jamie Cleine says the report shows that Buller’s economic performance and the local economy remains buoyant despite the current economic climate. 

“The current report brings positive news, including a far better than average GDP increase. The recent confidence boost received by the local mining industry will go a long way in ensuring a bright future for our coast businesses.”  

“This has a multitude of flow-on effects, including helping Buller’s housing market to remain resilient. House price growth here in Buller continues to exceed the national average, rising 4.3% per annum in the March 2024 quarter, compared with 1.9% nationally. Although we are still tracking below the West Coast region (where values are up 11.3%), the driver of this increase is likely the higher incomes earned in the district as a result of the continuing strength of the mining sector.” 

The Infometrics Quarterly Economic Monitor publishes regular reports about local economies for the quarters ending March, June, September, and December. 


For further information please contact: 
Mayor Jamie Cleine 
Buller District Council