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 December 2018

Almost 400 jobs have been added to the Timaru District in the year March 2018 year and there has been a healthy growth in consumer spending recorded in the latest economic report released for the area.

The December 2018 quarterly report compiled by Infometrics for Aoraki Development shows the biggest surge in new jobs was in the areas of manufacturing, administration and support services, transport and warehousing, the primary sector, and construction. The increase of 391 jobs takes the total job number in the district up to 25,542.

Another highlight of the report is the consumer spending information from Marketview, which shows that purchases on electronic cards climbed 3.3% in 2018 following 4.0% growth the previous year.

“The report is showing economic growth in Timaru is provisionally at 1.5 percent, which is slightly down on the previous period, but we’re still tracking well,” said Aoraki Development chief executive Nigel Davenport.

“It’s interesting to see that visitors to the district are pushing up our consumer spending, as it’s climbed to 5 percent in 2018 to a record $224m. That’s a lot of money coming into our economy which is great news,” he said.

Unemployment also sits at a continued low of 2.4% in December 2018, down from 3.1% a year earlier, and remains significantly below the New Zealand figure of 4.3%.

In the year to the end of December there have been slightly fewer new dwelling consents in 2018, but the value of commercial construction consents has begun pushing higher, rising 7.0% in 2018.

Highlights of Timaru District  – Quarterly Economic Monitor Report December 2018

Gross Domestic Product

GDP in Timaru District was up 1.5% for the year to December 2018 compared to a year earlier. Growth was lower than in New Zealand (2.7%).

GDP was $2,445 million in Timaru District for the year to September 2018 (2010 prices).


Unemployment in the district has fallen again, with Timaru District below the national average at 2.4%, and this is down from 3.1% a year earlier. Nationally the unemployment rate sits at 4.3% over the year to December 2018.

Retail Spending

Electronic card consumer spending in Timaru District, as measured by Marketview, increased by 3.3% over the year to December 2018 compared to the previous year. This compares with an increase of 4.5% in New Zealand


Total tourism expenditure in Timaru District increased by 5.0% in the year to December 2018, compared to an increase of 4.3% in New Zealand. Total tourism expenditure was approximately $224m in Timaru District during the year to December 2018.

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