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 September 2023

The Timaru economy grew by a modest 1.3% over the year to September 2023, tracking behind national growth of 1.7%, according to Infometrics provisional GDP estimates. Momentum dried up in the September 2023 quarter, with GDP down 0.5%pa, reflecting cost pressures on the district’s important primary and manufacturing sectors. Employment of Timaru residents grew 2.1% over the year to September 2023, the district’s fastest growth since 2018, led by the manufacturing industry which added nearly 350 jobs.



  • GDP in Timaru District was provisionally up 1.3%, in Timaru District for the year to June 2023 (2022 prices).

Consumer spending

  • Overall consumer spending in Timaru grew 5.7% over the year to September 2023, compared to 7.4 percent nationally.

House values

  • Timaru’s house values have largely maintained, with a small rise of .1 percent, and the average value now $511,242.

Dairy payout

  • Timaru District total dairy payout for the 2022/2023 season is estimated to have been approximately $448 million, with the payout for the 2023/2024 season is expected to be approximately $396 million, $52 million lower than last season.

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