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 2020

The Timaru District economy is faring better than many other parts of New Zealand post lockdown, with a small amount of economic growth recorded over the year to June.

Infometrics quarterly report produced for Venture Timaru shows growth for the district of 0.6 per cent over the past year, compared to a national decline during the same period of 2.1 per cent. However, for the June quarter 2020 alone, which includes the lockdown period, GDP fell in the district by 9 per cent, compared to the national decline of 12.9 per cent.

The report shows that consumer spending in Timaru District has held up slightly better than the rest of the country. Over the year to June 2020, Timaru’s spending was down by 2.3% compared to the national decline of 2.8%.

Highlights of Quarterly Economic Monitor Report June 2020


  • The annual average unemployment rate in Timaru District was 3.3% in June 2020, up from 3.1% a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate in Timaru District was lower than in New Zealand, where the unemployment rate averaged 4.1% over the year to June 2020.

House Prices

  • The average current house value in Timaru District was up 5.1% in June 2020 compared with a year earlier.
  • The average current house value is $386,600 in Timaru District over the June 2020 year. This compares with $724,155 nationally.

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