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 2018

Higher commodity prices and an increase in business investment and retail spending have contributed to a boost in the Timaru District economy, shown in figures released in the latest Quarterly Economic Monitor.

The shows GDP growth is up 2.3% for the year to June 2018 year, bringing the total GDP for the year GDP to $2,362 million.

The improved commodity returns have buoyed business confidence to spend and invest. Commercial vehicle registrations are running at their highest levels since 2008, while non-residential building consents have climbed 9.8% over the past 12 months, with most of this growth occurring during the June quarter. The increase in consents was primarily driven by factory, industrial, and storage building consents.

Retail spending in Tīmaru District climbed 4.5% over the June 2018 year, and visitor spending jumped 6.0%.

Visitors to Tīmaru District were another factor that contributed to this spending growth, with MBIE data showing visitor spending rose 6.0% over the past year.

The figures are released from Infometrics in the Quarterly Economic Monitor produced for Aoraki Development.

Highlights of Timaru District  – Quarterly Economic Monitor Report June 2018

Gross Domestic Product

  • GDP in Timaru District was up 2.3% for the year to June 2018 compared to a year earlier. Growth was lower than in New Zealand (2.7%).
  • GDP was $2,362 million in Timaru District for the year to June 2018 (2010 prices).

Total Dairy payout

  • Timaru District's dairy payout for the 2017/18 season is expected to be approximately $336m, $22.0m higher than last season, assuming that production levels from last season are maintained.

House prices

  • The average current house value in Timaru District was up 2.0% in June 2018 compared with a year earlier.
  • The average current house value was $354,765 over the June 2018 year, compared with $667,792 in New Zealand.


  • The annual average unemployment rate in Timaru District was 2.7% in June 2018, down from 3.4% a year earlier. This is lower than national figures, where the unemployment rate averaged 4.5% over the year to June 2018.

Tourism Spending

  • Total tourism expenditure in Timaru District increased by 6.0% in the year to June 2018. Total tourism expenditure was approximately $220m in Timaru District during the year, up from $208m a year ago.

Guest nights

  • Total guest nights in Timaru District increased by 1.7% in the year to June 2018. Visitors stayed a total of 313,919 nights in Timaru District during the year.

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 2017 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