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.

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 March 2024


Economic activity in Timaru 1% in the year to March2024, with Infometrics' economists reporting that Timaru’s weakness was driven by a decline in transport and construction activity, although agriculture experienced a mild rebound after several poor quarters.

There was also strong consumer spending growth, of 6.6% and employment rose by 1.8% in the period.


  • GDP in Timaru District was down 1%, totalling $3,639 million.

Consumer spending

  • Electronic card consumer spending in Timaru District as measured by Marketview, increased by 6.6% , compared to an increase of 3.3% in Canterbury Region.

House values

  • Timaru’s house values are up 0.8%, with the average value now $526,729 compared with $743,399 in Canterbury Region.

Dairy payout

  • Timaru District's dairy payout for the 2023/2024 season is expected to be approximately $428 million, $18 million lower than last season, assuming that production levels from last season are maintained.

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