The rebuild of Christchurch and the commodities boom are raising the hopes of manufacturers that activity will improve next year.
The November BNZ-BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index fell to its lowest level since June 2009, down nearly one point from October to 45.7.
A reading below 50 indicates manufacturing activity is contracting.
Manufacturers hoping October's decline was a one-off have been surprised by the November fall.
But Manufacturing New Zealand executive director Catherine Beard says the industry remains optimistic about 2012.