Agriculture a major influence on economy

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 2019

Timaru’s economy grew by a solid 2.5% in the year to December 2019, just ahead of the national rate of 2.3%, according to Infometrics provisional GDP estimates just released.

Average house values in Timaru continue to grow steadily, up 5.5% to reach $373,082 in the year while visitor spending in the district continues to grow steadily, up 2.9% in the year to December 2019, broadly in line with the national trend.

The report shows that the district's economy looks to have turned a corner, at least temporarily, at the end of 2019. Although growth has slowed, some near-term indicators have shown an improvement. Traffic flows, tourism spending, and house prices have all shown renewed growth, and are set to provide a foundation for further growth in 2020.

Highlights of Timaru District  – Quarterly Economic Monitor Report December 2019

Gross Domestic Product

  • GDP (provisional) in Timaru District was up 2.5% for the year to December 2019 compared to a year earlier.
  • GDP (provisional) was $2,502 million in Timaru District.


  • The annual average unemployment rate in Timaru District was 3.2% in December 2019.
  • The unemployment rate in Timaru District was lower than in New Zealand, where the unemployment rate averaged 4.1% over the year.

House Prices

  • The average current house value in Timaru District was up 5.5% compared with a year earlier. The average current house value was $373,082 in Timaru District.


  • Total tourism expenditure in Timaru District increased by 2.9% in the year compared to an increase of 3.5% in New Zealand.
  • Total tourism expenditure was approximately $232m in Timaru District during the year.

View the full report here:

Infometrics Quarterly Report Monitor

More economic reports.

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 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