The Timaru District economy is strongly influenced by its agricultural heritage. From its birth in pioneering sheep farming, our richly productive agricultural sector has grown to become New Zealand's "food bowl".

Today's farming is heavily influenced by dairy, with horticulture, intensive cropping, meat and wool also playing an important role. Significant manufacturing, processing, engineering and distribution operations contribute to extensive export and domestic supply of a wide range of goods and services.

This provides an array of employment opportunities across all sectors from trades and manufacturing to the professional, service and primary sectors. The Timaru District prides itself on having one of the lowest unemployment rates in New Zealand.

Temuka Transport stock truck

The wider South Canterbury region enjoys reliable and accessible water for irrigation and industry - indeed some of the most affordable resource in the country. This continues to provide the impetus for the development and growth of successful food processing and exporting operations. Large scale investment in water storage, quality and management is continuing, helping to ensure a robust, diverse economic future for the District.

Timaru District annual economic profile

The latest Annual Timaru District economic profile produced by Infometrics for Aoraki Development is now available.  The report contains the latest collated figures for the year to the end of March 2017 on aspects of our economy, population and more.

Timaru District  – Quarterly Economic Monitor Report September 2017

Timaru District’s economy is showing confidence, with growth of 2.0% in GDP recorded in the latest figures released for the September 2017 year and positive indicators of spending and investment in the district. The figures are released from Infometrics in the Quarterly Economic Monitor produced for Aoraki Development.

The year to September 2017 shows Timaru District’s GDP is at $2,330 million, and while the 2% growth is slightly below the national average of 2.5% growth.  The Infometrics report says that it is a marked improvement from the figure of -0.4% a year ago.

Highlights of Timaru District  – Quarterly Economic Monitor Report September 2017

Gross Domestic Product

  • GDP in Timaru District was up 2.0% for the year to September 2017 compared to a year earlier. Growth was lower than in New Zealand (2.5%).
  • GDP was $2,330 million in Timaru District for the year to September 2017

Total Dairy payout

  • Timaru District's total dairy payout for the 2016/17 season is estimated to have been approximately $321m.
  • Timaru District's dairy payout for the 2017/18 season is expected to be approximately $341m, $19.9m higher than last season, assuming that production levels from last season are maintained.

House prices

  • The average current house value in Timaru District was up 2.8% in September 2017 compared with a year earlier. Growth underperformed relative to New Zealand, where prices increased by 3.1%.
  • The average current house value was $349,006 in Timaru District over the September 2017 year. This compares with $637,670 in New Zealand.


  • The annual average unemployment rate in Timaru District was 3.2% in September 2017, down from 3.3% a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate in Timaru District was lower than in New Zealand, where the unemployment rate averaged 4.9% over the year to September 2017.

Tourism Spending

  • Total tourism expenditure in Timaru District increased by 6.0% in the year to September 2017. This compares with an increase of 6.4% in New Zealand.
  • Total tourism expenditure was approximately $212m in Timaru District during the year to September 2017, which was up from $200m a year ago.


  • Timaru District experenced a permanent and long-term net migration gain of 230 persons in the year to September 2017. This compares with a gain of 220 a year ago, and a ten year average of 60 (gain).
  • New Zealand's annual net migration increased to 70,983 from 69,947 a year ago.

View the full report here:

Infometrics Quarterly Report Monitor

Timaru District offers a great lifestyle with abundant opportunities. Find out more from residents who've moved here about what Timaru District offers for their lifestyle.

The Community Profile provides information about the people who are currently living in our district - their skills, qualifications, ethnicity and more.

Infometrics Community Profile

Timaru District Council Annual Plan 2016/2017

farmers mill

“Farmers Mill have chosen Timaru, South Canterbury to build our state-of-the art flour mill. The district is central to the arable land which produces the wheat we use to mill 100% NZ Flour. We find the district has a strong economic profile and the services and people we require to build a world class business.”  

Murray Turley, Chairman, Farmers Mill, Timaru