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 September 2021

Overall, Timaru District economy grew 3.6 percent, over the year to September 2021, according to Infometrics provisional GDP estimates, with GDP sitting at $3,215 million for the period. It shows good evidence of New Zealanders supporting the domestic tourism industry over the 12 months to September, as growth of 11 percent in tourism spending has been recorded in Timaru District over the 12 month period, in spite of lockdowns.

Timaru’s construction sector is busy and set to get busier in coming years. Residential consents have grown 52.9%, reaching their highest quarterly number since 2016 this quarter. The upcoming $344m Antarctica NZ base build will be significant for the
district, compared to the $180m of residential and non-residential work consented in the September 2021 year.

Consumer spending was affected by the August lockdown, but the bounce back under Level 3 and Delta Level 2 resulted in 7.7 percent growth for the Timaru District, just about the level for all of Canterbury (7.5 percent) and well above the total national spending level (4.7 percent).

Highlights of Quarterly Economic Monitor Report September 2021


  • GDP  in Timaru District was provisionally up 3.6% for the year to September 2021 compared to a year earlier. Provisional GDP was $3,215 million for the year to September 2021 (2020 prices).

Consumer spending

  • Electronic card consumer spending in Timaru District as measured by Marketview, increased by 7.7% compared to the previous year.

Tourism Expenditure

  • Total tourism expenditure in Timaru District increased by 11.2% in the year to September 2021. This compares with an increase of 4.2% in New Zealand. Total tourism expenditure was approximately $159 million in Timaru District during the year to September 2021.

House Values

  • The average current house value in Timaru District was up 18.7%.  The average current house value is now  $471,362 in Timaru District.

Residential Consents

  • A total of 84 new residential building consents were issued in the September 2021 quarter, compared with 41 in the same quarter last year. On an annual basis the number of consents in Timaru District increased by 52.9% compared with the same 12-month period a year ago. This compares with an increase of 25.4% in New Zealand over the same period.

Dairy Payout

  • Timaru District's dairy payout for the 2021/2022 season is expected to be approximately $440 million, which is $35 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