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 June 2019

Timaru’s economy has been growing steadily, with Infometrics provisional GDP estimates showing growth of 1.8% in the year to June 2019, compared with 1.6% to June 2018.

Timaru’s housing market is buoyant, with the number of sales up 8.2% in the June year and values up 3.1%, ahead of national growth of 1.4%. Despite this, consumer spending in the district was muted, up by a marginal 1.7%pa compared to 4.0% nationally.

Timaru dairy farmers are expected to receive $351m for the 2018/19 season, down $11m from the season prior due to successive downward revisions in the farmgate price. Fonterra has indicated a wide potential farmgate price for the coming season, but it is likely to be the same if not higher than last season.

Commercial vehicle registrations and non-residential building consents both indicate business confidence, and both have been relatively flat over the past year. Similarly, traffic volumes in the district have held steady between June this year and last year.

Timaru’s unemployment rate has been tracking downwards for several years, reaching a record low of 2.1% in the year to June 2019, and representing a very tight labour market. J

Highlights of Timaru District  – Quarterly Economic Monitor Report June 2019

Gross Domestic Product

  • GDP (provisional) in Timaru District was up 1.8% for the year to June 2019 compared to a year earlier. GDP (provisional) was $2,447 million for the year.


  • The annual average unemployment rate in Timaru District was 2.1% in June 2019, down from 2.7% a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate in Timaru District was lower than in New Zealand, where the unemployment rate averaged 4.1% over the year to June 2019.

House Prices

  • The average current house value in Timaru District was up 3.1% compared with a year earlier. The average current house value was $365,818 in Timaru District


  • Total tourism expenditure in Timaru District increased by 4.1% in the year compared to an increase of 3.2% in New Zealand.
  • Total tourism expenditure was approximately $228m in Timaru District during the year to June 2019, which was up from $219m 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.

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 2018 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