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 2020

Timaru District has been experiencing a strong economic recovery in the September 2020 quarter, that includes consumer spending growth of 6 per cent (compared to the same period last year) and an annualised boost in house values of 5 per cent.

The figures have just been released by economic analysts Infometrics and show the overall growth in the economy in Timaru district rated at 0.8 per cent, compared with the national decline of 3.3 per cent.  The Canterbury region has also recorded a decline of just over 3 per cent.

The predicted job losses as an effect of COVID-19 appear to have had minimal effect in Timaru District at this stage, with the unemployment rate recorded at 3.7 per cent for the year to the end of September.

Highlights of Quarterly Economic Monitor Report September 2020


  • GDP (provisional) in Timaru District was up 0.3% compared to a year earlier. Growth was higher than in New Zealand (-3.3%).
  • GDP was $2,957 million in Timaru District for the year.


  • The annual average unemployment rate in Timaru District was 3.7%, up from 3.2% a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate in Timaru District was lower than the national rate of 4.4% over the year to September 2020.

House Prices

  • The average current house value in Timaru District was up 5.5% in September 2020 compared with a year earlier.
  • The average current house value is $387,192 in Timaru District over the September 2020 year. This compares with $734,689 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