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The index started the year on a positive note, gaining $699.8 million in the three months ended March, up 6.4% and setting an ''encouraging tone'' for the year ahead, Deloitte partner Paul Munro said.
Broadly, a company is included in the index where its registered office is in the South Island and/or a substantial portion of its operations are focused in the South Island. The index is compiled using information provided by the NZX and Unlisted.
Breaking down the growth by sector, Mr Munro said the property sector gained 11.2% ($450 million) in the quarter, supported by the manufacturing and distribution and other sectors increasing their market capitalisations by $79 million and $78.5 million respectively.
Ryman recorded its 11th success quarterly increase in market capitalisation, growing by $450 million (11.5%) during the first quarter, he said.
Ryman's share price rose by 90c over the quarter to $8.75.
During the quarter, the Christchurch-based company signalled its intention to increase its build rate of New Zealand retirement homes, announcing its plan to build eight retirement villages in New Zealand, including five in the Auckland region.
Managing director Simon Challies said the target was to lift the current New Zealand build rate to 850 units and beds a year by 2017 to meet increasing demand.
The increase meant Ryman would be building at nearly double the rate it was five years ago.
The Deloitte South Island index increased by nearly $4 billion, or 50.5%, over the 12 months to March.
The majority of the increase in market capitalisation was attributable to the rise of Ryman and Ebos Group, Mr Munro said.
On a percentage basis, the greatest climbers for the past 12 months were Ebos (208%), Dunedin-based Pacific Edge (127%), and Ryman (73.6%). Overall, 20 of the 33 companies on the index grew over the 12 months, he said.
Meridian Energy increased its market capitalisation in the quarter by $150.2 million - a growth rate of 11.5%.
Meridian Energy released its interim results during the quarter.
Its before-tax profit was 49.3% above prospectus forecasts, including $41.2 million of non-cash fair value gains.
Ebos Group reversed its previous quarter's decline with an $81.2 million gain in market capitalisation to $10.25 per share - a 5.7% gain.
Both Kathmandu and Heartland New Zealand had strong quarters, increasing $68.1% (9.7%) and $31.9 million (9.6%) in market capitalisation respectively.
However, Bathurst Resources had a quarter to forget, losing more than half its value as it dropped $101 million (58.6%) in market capitalisation during the quarter to March 31.
The fall in share price followed the company's drastic actions to cut costs and preserve value in its Buller projects as it awaited approval for its escarpment mine.
Synlait Milk suffered its first quarterly fall after its first two quarters on the index were positive, he said.
The company dropped 6.1% in market capitalisation during the quarter, with its share price falling 24c to $3.70 per share.
Another exporter to experience a decline in market capitalisation was Scott Technology - its share price dropped 40c to $1.50 per share, the equivalent of losing $16.6 million during the quarter.
''The share price consistently decreased over the quarter with what seems to be investors' concerns about the effect of the high New Zealand dollar on the company,'' Mr Munro said.