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 2021

Timaru District has recorded a higher growth in GDP, compared to Canterbury and national figures, as reported in the latest economic figures released for the December quarter 2021.

The growth in GDP for Timaru District is at 7.7 percent, well ahead of the national growth in GDP of 5.5 percent and slightly higher than the 7.2 percent growth recorded for Canterbury.

The economic report also shows a jump in tourism spending for Timaru District, up 11.8 percent for the year to December, which again has outperformed the 8.6 per cent growth recorded by Canterbury and the 3.9% growth recorded nationally.

Highlights of Quarterly Economic Monitor Report December 2021


  • GDP in Timaru District was provisionally up 7.7% for the year to December 2021 compared to a year earlier. Growth was higher than in New Zealand (5.5%) and Wellington Region (6.1%).  Provisional GDP was $3,372 million in Timaru District for the year to December 2021 (2021 prices).

Consumer spending

  • Electronic card consumer spending in Timaru District as measured by Marketview, increased by 7.8% compared to the previous year.

Tourism Expenditure

  • Total tourism expenditure in Timaru District increased by 11.8% in the year to September 2021. This compares with an increase of 3.9% in New Zealand.
  • Total tourism expenditure was approximately $161 million in Timaru District during the year to December 2021, which was up from $144 million a year ago.

House Values

  • The average current house value in Timaru District was up 19.6%.  The average current house value is now  $494,757 in Timaru District.

Dairy Payout

  • Timaru District's dairy payout for the 2021/2022 season is estimated to have been approximately $427 million.
  • The District's dairy payout for the 2021/2022 season is expected to be approximately $526 million, $99 million higher 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