Confidence has rebounded sharply, as the shock of the February earthquake wears off and companies get back to business.
The Bank of New Zealand's monthly business confidence survey shows confidence jumped sharply in March.
A net 14% of respondents expect the economy to be better in a year's time, compared with February when 21% expected the economy to deteriorate.
BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander, who conducts the survey, says the result is ahead of his expectations, but he is not surprised the March result was stronger than February.
Mr Alexander says businesses are expecting stronger activity, as the rebuilding of earthquake-hit Christchurch gets underway in coming months.
Forestry and agricultural sectors are benefiting from higher commodity prices and the recruitment sector is being boosted by more hiring. However, retailers and domestic manufacturers are still struggling, he says.