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.

Highlights of Timaru District  – Quarterly Economic Monitor Report December 2016

Gross Domestic Product 
  • GDP in Timaru District was up 0.4% for the year to December 2016 compared to a year earlier. Growth was lower than in New Zealand (3.2%).
  • GDP was $2,304 million in Timaru District for the year to December 2016 (2010 prices).
Total Dairy payout
  • Timaru District's total dairy payout for the 2015/16 season is estimated to have been approximately $206m. The District's dairy payout for the 2016/17 season is expected to be approximately $316m, $111m higher than last season, assuming that production levels from last season are maintained.
  • The average current house value in Timaru District was up 9.3% in December 2016 compared with a year earlier. 
  • The average current house value was $324,950 in Timaru District over the December 2016 year. This compares with $607,808 in New Zealand.
  • House sales in Timaru District in the year to December 2016 increased by 10% compared with the previous year. Growth outperformed relative to New Zealand, where sales decreased by 0.03%.
  • The annual average unemployment rate in Timaru District was 3.2% in December 2016, down from 3.5% a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate in Timaru District was lower than in New Zealand, where the unemployment rate averaged 5.1% over the year to December 2016.
Non residential consents
  • Non-residential building consents to the value of $43 million were issued in Timaru District during the year to December 2016.
  • The value of consents decreased by -25% over the year to December 2016. By comparison the value of consents in New Zealand increased by 1.7% over the same period 
  • Timaru District experienced a permanent and long-term net migration gain of 252 persons in the year to December 2016. This compares with a gain of 182 a year ago, and a ten year average of 40 (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.

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