The farming sector has benefited from benign autumn weather this year, although sales of most types of rural properties are below where they were 12 months ago.
The latest figures from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand show there were 388 farms sold in the three months to the end of March, down 11% compared to the same period of last year.
Sales of most most types of farms were down, the main exception being sales of finishing farms, were rose from 83 in the first quarter of last year to 132 in the first quarter of this year, up 59%.
But arable farm sales were down 28%, dairy farms -19%, grazing properties -35% and horticultural properties -22%.
Prices were a bit more resilient, with the REINZ All Farm Price Index, which adjusts for differences in farm type, size and location, up 1.6% compared to the first quarter of last year.
However the REINZ Dairy Farm Price Index, which also adjusts for differences in farm size and location, was down 3% compared to the first quarter of last year.
REINZ rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said benevolent autumn weather in most regions had allowed farmers to make up for lost production caused by difficult weather in winter and spring.
"Buoyed by strong prices for beef, lamb and horticultural products, and the improving prices being signalled in the dairy industry, farmers attitudes are reflecting improving morale and a cautious degree of confidence," he said.
However sales of lifestyle blocks were also well down compared to last year, with 1717 lifestyle properties sold in the three months to the end of March, down 15% compared to the same period of last year and down 20% compared to the same period of 2016.
In the 12 months to the end of March 7344 lifestyle properties were sold, down 18% compared to the previous 12 months.
The biggest fall in the number of lifestyle properties sold was in the Auckland Region, where sales in the first three months of this year were down 30% compared to the same period of last year and down 43% compared to the same period of 2016.
The median price for lifestyle properties sold in the first three months of this year was $647,500, up 3.6% compared to a year earlier.
More detailed price/ha data is available here.