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 September 2019

Positive news for the Timaru District economy, with the latest economic data reports released showing solid GDP growth that is consistent with the Canterbury region overall.

The quarterly economic report prepared for Aoraki Development for the September quarter by analysts Infometrics, shows economic growth of 2 per cent, which provisional figures show to be worth $2,490 million for the Timaru District in dollar terms.

Timaru’s housing market has outperformed the rest of the country in the year September with values up by 4 per cent and sales up by 5.9 per cent compared.  The average house is now worth $367,000 compared to $692,400 nationally.

Highlights of Timaru District  – Quarterly Economic Monitor Report September 2019

Gross Domestic Product

  • GDP (provisional) in Timaru District was up 2% for the year to September 2019 compared to a year earlier. GDP (provisional) was $2,490 million for the year.


  • The annual average unemployment rate in Timaru District was 3.2% in September 2019.
  • The unemployment rate in Timaru District was lower than in New Zealand, where the unemployment rate averaged 4.2% over the year to September 2019..

House Prices

  • The average current house value in Timaru District was up 4% compared with a year earlier. The average current house value was $367,831 in Timaru District


  • Total tourism expenditure in Timaru District increased by 4.6% in the year compared to an increase of 3.1% in New Zealand.
  • Total tourism expenditure was approximately $231m in Timaru District during the year to September 2019, which was up from $221m a year ago.

View the full report here:

Infometrics Quarterly Report Monitor

More economic reports.

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.

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