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  – Quarterly Economic Monitor Report March 2018

The Tīmaru District economy grew 2.2% in March 2018 year, according to Infometrics’ provisional GDP estimates. Although only slightly above the average for the Canterbury region (2.1%), This shows economic growth in Tīmaru District was the fastest it has been since 2015, and is slightly above the average for the Canterbury region (2.1%).

This pick-up in economic growth has fed through to the labour market, with the number of Jobseeker Support recipients plunging 5.9% since the March 2016 year, compared to a national decline of 0.5%.

With more people in work, more people are spending, which is reflected in higher retail sales. In the March 2018 year, retail trading activity rose 4.5% from a year earlier.

The figures are released from Infometrics in the Quarterly Economic Monitor produced for Aoraki Development.

Highlights of Timaru District  – Quarterly Economic Monitor Report March 2018

Gross Domestic Product

  • GDP in Timaru District was up 2.2% for the year to March 2018 compared to a year earlier - just slightly higher than the average for Canterbury (2.1%) and lower than in New Zealand (2.7%).
  • GDP was $2,357 million in Timaru District for the year to March 2018 (2010 prices).

Total Dairy payout

  • Timaru District's dairy payout for the 2017/18 season is expected to be approximately $336m, $22.0m higher than last season, assuming that production levels from last season are maintained.
  • The total dairy payout for New Zealand is estimated to have been approximately $11,328m in the 2016/17 season, and is expected to be $796m higher in the 2017/18 season.

House prices

  • The average current house value in Timaru District was up 5.7% in March 2018 compared with a year earlier.
  • The average current house value was $351,261 in Timaru District over the March 2018 year. This compares with $659,904 in New Zealand.


  • The annual average unemployment rate in Timaru District was 2.8% in March 2018, down from 3.4% a year earlier. This is lower than in New Zealand, where the unemployment rate averaged 4.6% over the year to March 2018.
  • Working age Jobseeker Support recipients in Timaru District in the year to March 2018 dropped by 5.9% compared to a drop of just 0.5% nationally in the same period.

Tourism Spending

  • Total tourism expenditure in Timaru District increased by 6.1% in the year to March 2018, compared to an increase of 9.3% nationally.
  • Total tourism expenditure was approximately $219m in Timaru District during the year to March 2018, which was up from $206m a year ago.


  • Timaru District experienced a permanent and long-term net migration gain of 279 persons in the year to March 2018. This compares with a gain of 258 a year ago, and a ten year average of 83 (gain).

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.

New report highlights Timaru District’s retail spending

Retail spending in Timaru District has grown 4.7 percent in the last year, with around $567 million million being pumped into the local economy.

A new report on retail spending produced for Aoraki Development shows most retail spending comes from locals Timaru town (73.6 percent) while in Geraldine, the importance of the town as the district’s tourist hub is backed up by data on retail spend there, with nearly 40 percent of Geraldine’s retail spending coming from people who live outside the district.  In the year ended March 2018, 6.7 percent of the spending in Geraldine was from international visitors.

Report of Retail Spending in Timaru District 2018

Newly released Megatrends Report 2018

Infometrics has released its new Megatrends Report, titled From Education to the Employment: Megatrends affecting NZ’s working environment.

In the report, Gareth Kiernan, Infometrics’ Chief Forecaster has brought together several megatrends and investigates how these will shape the NZ workforce.

From education to the economy: Megatrends affecting NZ’s working environment is structured around the following themes:

  • The economic environment in which we operate
  • Demographic trends and their challenges
  • The changing nature of education and training

You can read the report here.

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.

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