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 June 2021

Timaru District’s economy has grown above the national average in the year to the end of June, in spite of the effects of lockdown 2020. Latest figures out from economists Infometrics describe the figures for Timaru District as “abnormally strong” given that the period being reported on includes the period of lockdown in 2020.

The report shows growth in Timaru District of 4.3 percent to the end of June 2021, with activity in the June 2021 quarter at 5.5 percent, higher than 2019, which indicates more underlying growth.

In the figures released, employment is up 0.7 per cent, there has been a surge in domestic tourism which has helped to boost spending, the construction sector is busy in both the residential and non-residual areas and house values are up 13.5 per cent with the average house value now at $448,625.

Highlights of Quarterly Economic Monitor Report June 2021


  • GDP in Timaru District was provisionally up 4.3% for the year to June 2021 compared to a year earlier. Growth was higher than in Canterbury Region (3.7%) and New Zealand (4.2%).  Provisional GDP was $3,201 million in Timaru District for the period.


  • Employment for residents living in Timaru District was up 0.7% for the year to June 2021 compared to a year earlier. Growth was higher than in Canterbury Region (-0.7%) and New Zealand (-0.1%).
  • An average of 23,542 people living in Timaru District were employed in the year to June 2021.

House Values

  • The average current house value in Timaru District was up 13.5%.  The average current house value was $448,625 in Timaru District in June 2021, compared to $620,994 in Canterbury Region and $922,421 in New Zealand.

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