Pastoral farming plays a significant role in the economy of the Rotorua district with agriculture being a major employer

Dairy, dry stock and deer are just some of the examples of agricultural land use in the district.

Growth in the agriculture sector needs to take into consideration the impact on fresh water bodies. The lakes of the Rotorua District are a prime tourist attraction and to protect the water quality, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council has set a limit for nutrients entering Lake Rotorua from agricultural activities.

Destination Rotorua have undertaken analysis of the agricultural sector to understand the opportunities and barriers for economic growth. To identify alternative land-use for pastoral land in the Lake Rotorua catchment, Destination Rotorua has partnered with the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme to identify innovative land-use options that will provide for a thriving agricultural sector and a clean lake. 

Land Use Opportunities Symposium

Business ProFiles



Since 2002, Harald and Connie Esendam have been successful in tapping into the area’s geothermal energy to develop their commercial gerbera business, PlentyFlora.

Gerberas are a subtropical plant from South Africa and PlentyFlora’s greenhouse is heated by geothermal energy from two shallow geothermal bores to create the right temperature and environment for the flowers. Each year PlentyFlora produces more than 600,000 cut-flower gerberas and has successfully developed mini-gerberas with over 80 colour varieties. PlentyFlora send gerberas directly to florists all over the North Island.

Harald and Connie, with their family, immigrated to New Zealand in 1995 from Holland, working for Carter Holt Harvey in Tokoroa and Rotorua. The purchase of the glasshouse in 2002 was a great opportunity and they built everything from scratch. PlentyFlora operates 7 days a week with the glass house being full of colour all year round. Using the latest flower growing technology, Plenty Flora operates a fully computerised system so the flowers receive the appropriate water, fertiliser or feed. Harald has great plans to better utilise the geothermal energy to increase the efficiency of his glasshouse and explore other innovations.

“A great benefit for us was the geothermal bore that was already in existence when we came here, so it was a matter of tapping into this and utilising it for our needs. We have lived in Rotorua for over 10 years and proud to call it home. Our business is only 10 minutes from the city. We love the centralness and the lifestyle Rotorua offers,” says Harald Esendam.

Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry Report
A RECENT report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry gives a favourable outlook for the agricultural industry

International lamb prices are expected to increase slowly as sheep numbers continue to decline in the European Union and demand increases for lamb imports, particularly in the Middle East and China. The much improved situation for the wool industry is expected to continue. Wool export revenue for the year ending 30 June 2011 is estimated at $728 million, up 33% on the previous year and reflecting higher export prices. By 2015, export wool revenue is projected at $827 million, reflecting continued price increases.

Prices for New Zealand beef in the US reached record highs in early April 2011. Total beef export value for the year ending 30 June 2011 is estimated to be up 8.1% to $2 billion, ref acting the net impact of a 15% increase in price and a 5.8% fall in volume. By 2015, beef export value is projected to increase to $2.6 billion, reflecting increased production and an assumed exchange rate depreciation in later years. The outlook for New Zealand’s dairy sector is positive, based on high international dairy prices driven by strong global demand, especially from developing countries. Butter prices, in particular, have increased rapidly. Dairy export revenue for the year ending 30 June 2011 is estimated to be over $13 billion. Increased milk solid production, along with high dairy prices, is forecast to increase export revenue for the year ending 30 June 2012 to $14.6 billion, or 12%. Export revenue is forecast to increase by another 6.9% for the year ending 30 June 2013, with more gradual increases thereafter. The good economic forecasts for the dairy industry, and cattle and sheep industries, make farming favourable options for investment. Further opportunities exist in areas such as organic farming, boutique industries and growing of short rotation crops for bio-fuel.

Growth Opportunity - Manuka Honey

Destination Rotorua is exploring how land in the region could be developed for manuka honey and other manuka products. Manuka honey has become a highly valued export and domestic product particularly through demand from Asia and Europe. 

Exports are now around $120m with tremendous prospects for future growth.  The Ministry of Economic Development, as part of their Food and Beverage Project, identified manuka honey as one of the top three growth prospects.

Several companies have well established channels to market and the apparent limitations are mainly supply of the higher quality honeys. While supply has primarily been from naturally occurring manuka stands in the past, there is significant interest in establishing manuka plantations. Several commercial and research organisations are actively pursuing this option.

The potential is bigger than just planting trees and includes a range of activities from tree breeding, propagation of seedlings, establishing manuka plantations and products such as the honey and oils.  There are also strategic links to our spa and wellness strategy as well as the education opportunities across the whole value chain - scientists, foresters, apiarists and health sector specialists.

Iwi with ownership of large tracts of land in the district have significant opportunities to engage right across the value chain and related sectors.

Outcomes Targeted
  • Iwi involvement along the value chain
  • Integrated, economically viable land use change
  • Demonstration sites established in 2014
  • Supply chain developed to establish 1000 hectares of plantation manuka
  • Investment opportunities identified along supply and value chains.
Facts & Figures

Pastoral farming plays a significant role in the economy of the Rotorua district with agriculture being a major employer. Agriculture contributes 5.7% of the local economy.

Rotorua’s soils and climate are well-suited for pastoral farming, which is a major land use in the district. The district’s average annual rainfall of 1,400mm is distributed evenly throughout the year, allowing for good pasture growth. Rotorua also has quite a sunny climate with relatively little wind.


Considerable investment in research and development has assisted with rapid advances in farm management technology and this has dramatically influenced farm profits. Expert systems allow for better farm management and farm profitability.

Nutrient management on farms has become increasingly important due to tighter environmental regulations and increases in fertiliser prices. Development of agricultural management tools, particularly OVERSEER, has made nutrient management much easier, allowing farmers to optimise production and environmental outcomes.

There are exceptionally good examples of award winning sustainable farming systems in the Rotorua district. These showcase farmers who are profitably running their farms without negative environmental impacts. The recently launched ‘Trees on Farms’ initiative has been designed to help farmers make decisions about investing in farm forestry. A three-year programme of regionally-based workshops was launched in November 2011 to help pastoral farmers and their advisors understand ETS and the implications of planting trees to offset on-farm emissions.

To find out more contact Destination Rotorua