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South Canterbury Infrastructure, Property & Housing

South Canterbury is an excellent base for many businesses, with its central location, modern infrastructure, highly skilled labour force and lower property and labour rates than many other areas of New Zealand.

South Canterbury's economy is strongly influenced by its agricultural heritage. Today agriculture in the district is diverse, with dairying having a significant impact. Increasing irrigation offers farmers a greater range of options for production – ranging from intensive dairy farming to vegetable production, cropping, meat and wool.

Significant manufacturing operations are located here, including Fonterra’s Clandeboye dairy factory, McCain’s food processing plant, DB Mainland Breweries, NZ Light Leathers, Alliance Group Smithfield meat processing plant and Barker's of Geraldine. The district is centrally located for distribution and the region’s port PrimePort provides a busy gateway for exports and imports.


South Canterbury offers an excellent range of high quality education options, from pre-school to tertiary. See Education for more detail including a list of schools and educational institutions around the region. In most urban areas, schools are within easy walking distance and in rural areas, school bus services provide transport to rural and urban schools for students who qualify due to distance from their nearest school. (See Education for more information on local education services.)


IT literacy in the region is high and broadband is widely available - landline in urban areas and satellite or wireless options for more remote rural locations. New Zealand's leading rural communications provider, specialising in rural broadband, VoiP and mobile solutions, is proudly Timaru-based. For South Canterbury businesses, browse our business listings.

Transport Infrastructure

Located on the doorstep of all the region’s largest exporters and at the heart of New Zealand’s largest food bowl, the Canterbury Plains, South Canterbury is centrally located and well served by a modern transport infrastructure:

  • Whether you’re moving around the corner or from across the globe, there are Business Partners who can help you as a family or business, nationally or internationally. Specialists in all aspects of moving services, customs and freight forwarding.

  • Direct flights from Timaru airport regularly connect South Canterbury with New Zealand's capital Wellington, with links to and from other larger cities. Located only 8 kilometres from the central business area, the airport is within easy commuting distance of Timaru. The region is within approximately 2-2.5 hours easy travel by road to two international airports, Christchurch and Dunedin.

  • South Canterbury is well serviced by coaches operating into and around the region, see Transport Options for more details on getting to and from South Canterbury by coach.

  • Timaru City has a full public bus service and community bus services operate in other areas. 

  • South Canterbury roading services are of good quality and are regularly maintained by the Timaru, Mackenzie and Waimate District Councils. The region enjoys an efficient roading network with all major roading links sealed. In urban areas, major connecting points are managed by traffic signalling and congestion is non existent. In rural areas gravel (shingle) roads are also regularly maintained. Clear signage marking both major and subsidiary routes makes for easy access to all corners of the region.

  • Several taxi companies provide services throughout South Canterbury, including services for customers with special needs or disabilities.

  • Busy freight hubs in Timaru and Temuka service the South Island NZ main trunk railway line. A regular daily freight service connects Christchurch and Timaru, linking with bulk transport services at Timaru's PrimePort.

  • The most centrally located South Island port, PrimePort Timaru is a modern freight and logistics import/export hub for many businesses, providing an active gateway for the South Canterbury economy. With close proximity to major road and rail links, PrimePort services several international shipping lines and some of New Zealand’s largest export processing plants. Extensive warehousing and storage capacity is complemented by the largest land holding of any port in New Zealand, providing opportunites for further development of storage, distribution or processing facilities. With an easy approach channel and a sheltered inner harbour, PrimePort Timaru provides a 24 hour a day pilotage service all year round.

  • Timaru is New Zealand's second largest fishing port, with two major processing plants adjacent to the Fish Harbour.  


South Canterbury has a stable housing market, with real estate and rental prices comparing very favourably to other areas of New Zealand. Approximately 100 real estate agents serve the wider South Canterbury area and for those looking for a property beyond city boundaries, lifestyle block and rural specialists provide personal service.

Many new residents choose to rent a home on first arriving in the region, with rental prices for a family home ranging from NZD $220 to $400 per week. Many local real estate agents also manage rental portfolios.

As a general guideline, current purchase prices for a 3 bedroom permanent material home range from the NZD $200,000-$350,000 bracket to around NZD $450,000 + for a rural lifestyle property of approximately 3-5 hectares (10-15 acres). Well established properties in prime locations (for example with mountain to sea views) can command prices ranging from NZD $650,000 upwards.

South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce works with a wide range of excellent South Canterbury business partners, who can help you with your property needs.
Arial shot of Port - PrimePortUnloading a Bus - PrimePortAoraki Polytechnic D Block Timaru CampusHousing Overlooking Caroline Bay - Di Hay
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