Auckland-based billionaire Graeme Hart has dropped to second on a National Business Review (NBR) rich list which has been expanded to include a Russian minerals magnate, a British aristocrat and several North American billionaires.
NBR has decided to include foreign investors in the 2012 list to acknowledge their contribution to the country.
New entrant Alexander Abramov, who is building a $40 million luxury home in the Bay of Islands, tops the list with wealth estimated at $7 billion.
Mr Hart is the richest New Zealander and is second on the list with $6 billion, and Richard Chandler is third with $5 billion made from investing in emerging markets.
US businessman and New Zealand luxury lodge owner Julian Robertson is fourth with $3 billion, and US winemaker Bill Foley, who owns the Wharekauhau luxury lodge in the Wairarapa, is sixth equal with Christopher Chandler with $1.5 billion.
The Todd family are fifth with a fortune estimated at $2.7 billion.
Dowager Duchess Henrietta Bedford, who owns New Zealand property, debuts on the list at number nine.
The total value of the rich list rises to $57.7 billion from $45.2 billion last year, mostly because of the inclusion of the wealthy foreigners with local assets.
New local entrants include Bay of Plenty-based Colin and Dale Armer, who control 58 South Island farms and 13 North Island farms, while hotel interests catapult the Pandey and Jhunjhunwala families onto the list.
The former owns owns 19 hotels, including a controlling interest in Sofitel Auckland and the latter owns Sudima Hotels.
Film-maker James Cameron is also a new entrant on the list.
"We're also seeing billionaires on other country's lists showing an interest in New Zealand and, once they get here on business, they tend to find this a great place for pleasure," NBR editor-in-chief Nevil Gibson said.
Mr Hart has a global packaging empire built from the purchase of Carter Holt Harvey assets. The former tow truck driver was credited with turning around Australian food company Burns Philp.
Mr Gibson says the achievements of those on the list should be celebrated at a time when many people have lost fortunes or have been bailed out by tax payers.