Manufacturing volumes fell in the three months to March, the first seasonally adjusted fall since September 2011.
Figures issued by Statistics New Zealand show volumes fell a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in the March quarter, led by a fall in metal product manufacturing.
The fall follows five quarters of increases and occurred despite an increase of 0.5% in the sales volume for meat and dairy product manufacturing.
Economists attributed this to the drought and farmers sending stock to the meatworks early, which should be reversed in the June and September quarters.
Statistics NZ said the trend for the manufacturing sales volume, which gives a longer-term picture of movements, has been rising since late 2011 but now appears to be flattening.
Total manufacturing sales value edged up 0.2% to a seasonally adjusted $22.9 billion.