As almost all construction shuts down, the skyline is left with dozens of idle cranes across the country as icons of the sudden pause in business. Many won't restart with the same companies

As almost all construction shuts down, the skyline is left with dozens of idle cranes across the country as icons of the sudden pause in business. Many won't restart with the same companies

Just about all of New Zealand’s 128 long-term construction cranes have stopped working as construction sites were shut down across the country as part of the Government stage 4 response to COVID-19.

The only cranes still operating are on those working projects deemed as essential.

According to the 1Q 2020 RLB Crane Index, there are currently 128 long term cranes sighted across the country (88 in Auckland, 12 in Queenstown, 12 in Christchurch, 7 in both Wellington, 5 in Tauranga, 3 in Hamilton and 1 in Dunedin), equating to a net decrease of only 3 cranes from the previous edition six months ago.

RLB Director Mr. Chris Haines commented, “With the country in lock-down due to COVID-19, nearly all live projects have been suspended for a minimum period of 4 weeks”, he said.

“We are only aware of a handful of health projects in Auckland and Christchurch for DHB’s and Southern Cross that have applied to be deemed ‘essential’ and can continue construction during lockdown.”

All infrastructure work including Auckland’s City Rail Link, Watercare’s Central Interceptor and major roading projects such as Puhoi to Warkworth expressway, Kaipiti expressway and Transmission Gulley have stopped. All residential and commercial projects work has now stopped. While design and tendering continue working from home, the live construction work cannot progress.

RLB says, following the lockdown there are several key risks to current live construction projects that include:

  • The limited cashflow that will test the financial solvency of main contractors, sub-contractors, suppliers and some developers too will also be under pressure. The Government subsidies and assistance packages and the dispensations given by the banks will be key to ensuring projects and parties can viably continue during and after the lockdown.
  • Potential contractual disputes on the right to time extensions and the extent of any cost recovery is likely as contracts, legal advice and approach taken vary from project to project
  • Security of sites particularly where any site security personnel is not considered an essential service means the risk of theft and potential recovery of materials and equipment could be high.
  • Protection of work in progress. Contractors have had a very limited time to get organised. Risk of exposed timber or finishes to the weather and potential future abortive work and replacement will be high in some projects depending on the stage it is currently at
  • Health & safety of the sites. Ensuring they have been left safe to avoid members of the public can accessing sites or tower cranes during the lockdown

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


The cessation of work on the Interceptor in Awkland is a health issue: no interceptor = more sewage on beaches with every modest rain. Sure, it's a long-term project, but honestly......Bazalgette would be rotating in his grave....

Whereas the cessation of work on the conference centre is less of a loss - unless it could quickly be converted to a field hospital or morgue for all a them Tens of Thousands.....

A lot purging and reckoning during this period of lock-down, peoples started to acknowledge the value of remote working, give more idea for less travelling, safe environment, work from home, value family time, at anytime just said to employer the computer crash, ISP problems. These days, we don't need the physical touch, it can be done remotely, virtually, virtual crane, virtual house/building, virtual workers, our current hands on workers soon will be able to work from virtual valued of 1million dollar home, nurses, doctors, pilots, car mechanics, physiotherapist, rubbish collectors, barbers, nail salon, hairdresser etc. - All these days can be done easily remotely behind the computer. This country can contribute more in the future towards their own healhtcare system through wealth creation, by selling more lands to highest bidder, created billion dollars IT industries which produce excellent movies, entertainment, games to the world. As JK/Blue team/ANZ have advised us, China is our only best bet to achieve this wealth quickly, excellent wealth will provide excellent health funding. As we are all started to realise now, that a strong country on this planet is as good as their own Healthcare strength. The only way for NZ to achieve this? - Please, ensure your upward RE valuation trajectory, up means Wealth.. keep up that way, as with this. There's a 'magic weapon' of algorithm at play behind it... a well nurture/protected Healthcare systems. China has shown the world how their healthcare system cope with recent outbreak, thanks to their protected up high RE valuation trajectory/Wealth - so much so? if they decided to revise the number of death from 3xxx down to 2xxx or to 1xxx, it can be done at a finger flick, as a result of one official that made a counting error.. the official has been 'stood down'.. untraceable.