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 2017

Better returns in the dairy sector at a time when agricultural returns are also healthy are being highlighted as key factors behind the positive growth in Timaru District’s economy reported in the latest June quarter economic monitor for Aoraki Development.

Highlights of Timaru District  – Quarterly Economic Monitor Report June 2017

Gross Domestic Product

  • GDP in Timaru District was up 1.3% for the year to June 2017 compared to a year earlier.
  • GDP was $2,318 million in Timaru District for the year to June 2017 (2010 prices).

Total Dairy payout

  • Timaru District's dairy payout for the 2016/17 season is expected to be approximately $324m, which is $119m 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 $7,261m in the 2015/16 season, and is expected to be $4,190m higher in the 2016/17 season.

House prices

  • The average current house value in Timaru District was up 9.3% in June 2017 compared with a year earlier. Growth outperformed relative to New Zealand, where prices increased by 6.7%.
  • The average current house value was $340,193 in Timaru District over the June 2017 year. This compares with $626,830 in New Zealand.


  • The annual average unemployment rate in Timaru District is 3.4% in June 2017, lower than the national average of 5.0%.

Tourism Spending

  • Total tourism expenditure in Timaru District increased by 4.6% in the year to June 2017. This compares with an increase of 5.9% in New Zealand.
  • Total tourism expenditure was approximately $211m in Timaru District during the year to June 2017, which was up from $201m a year ago.


  • Timaru District experienced a permanent and long-term net migration gain of 252 people in the year to June 2017. This compares with a gain of 173 a year ago, and a 10 year average of 55 (gain).
  • New Zealand's annual net migration increased to 72,297 from 69,087 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