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 2017

After the slowdown in late 2016 and early 2017, Timaru’s economy is steadily accelerating. Infometrics’ provisional estimate for GDP showed growth in the district of 1.6% in the December 2017 year, the strongest growth since mid-2016.

As is the case in many other parts of the country, consumer spending and tourism are boosting Timaru’s economy. Marketview data on electronic card transactions shows that retail spending in the district grew by 4.0% in the December 2017 year, while car registrations increased by 15%. Timaru’s commercial vehicle registrations are also strong, increasing by 25% in 2017.

Visitor expenditure grew by 5.3% in the December 2017 year, although guest nights in commercial accommodation in the district dropped by 2.0%. This suggests that private accommodation is taking greater market share, over such platforms as Airbnb.

The district’s labour market is strong. The number of Jobseeker Support Recipients fell by 3.9% in the December 2017 year, better than the broadly flat result for NZ as a whole. The Infometrics Regional Economic Profile shows that accommodation & food services (60 new filled jobs in the March 2017 year), road transport (43), and administrative & support services (30) have recently made strong contributions to employment growth in Timaru.

The number of house sales in Timaru is trending lower, but a solid labour market will have been one factor behind rising house prices. They have risen by 7.8% over the past year, double the national average increase of 3.9%.

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

Highlights of Timaru District  – Quarterly Economic Monitor Report Sept 2017

Gross Domestic Product

  • GDP in Timaru District was up 1.6% for the year to December 2017 compared to a year earlier.
  • GDP was $2,336 million in Timaru District for the year to December 2017.

Total Dairy payout

  • Timaru District's total dairy payout for the 2016/17 season is estimated to have been approximately $314m.
  • Timaru District's dairy payout for the 2017/18 season is expected to be approximately $328m, $14.4m 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 7.8% in December 2017 compared with a year earlier. Growth outperformed relative to New Zealand, where prices increased by 3.9%.
  • The average current house value was $343,607 in Timaru District over the December 2017 year. This compares with $661,311 in New Zealand.


  • The annual average unemployment rate in Timaru District was 3.1% in December 2017, down from 3.2% a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate in Timaru District was lower than in New Zealand, where the unemployment rate averaged 4.7% over the year to December 2017.

Tourism Spending

  • Total tourism expenditure in Timaru District increased by 5.3% in the year to December 2017. This compares with an increase of 6.4% in New Zealand.
  • Total tourism expenditure was approximately $215m in Timaru District during the year to December 2017, which was up from $204m a year ago.


  • Timaru District experienced a permanent and long-term net migration gain of 239 persons in the year to December 2017. This compares with a gain of 252 a year ago, and a ten year average of 67 (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.

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