Canterbury is NZ’s largest region by area and second equal in terms of economic activity.

Christchurch, the region’s urban centre, is home to nearly three-quarters of the region’s people and an important hub for the South Island. The Christchurch earthquakes and rebuild which is estimated to cost $30 billion, have a national as well as regional economic impact.

Canterbury and the Wellington region vie for the position of New Zealand’s second biggest economy, being relatively equal in size (each between 12 and 13 percent of national employment). However, Canterbury’s economic activity is more evenly distributed between the agriculture, manufacturing and services sectors.

For most of the last decade, average household incomes earned in Canterbury have been slightly higher than the national average, and employment has been growing relatively strongly. Canterbury has been the magnetic pole for South Island residents moving region for work.The region’s agriculture sector is focused on dairy, sheep, beef and grain farming. There has been a rapid conversion of land to dairy farming in the region over the last decade, and Canterbury now has the highest average dairy herd size in New Zealand and correspondingly high productivity levels. Sixty-eight percent of New Zealand’s freshwater is located in Canterbury.

However, increased irrigation and management of nutrient runoff will be required to support further growth in dairy farming.

Christchurch City comprises about 70% of the region’s economy. As well as providing services to the rest of the region, Christchurch has national strengths in transport, machinery, and food and beverage manufacturing. It has a high proportion of medium to high-tech manufacturing businesses, which are linked to a regional innovation system that includes several tertiary education providers and all of the country’s Crown research information.


Canterbury Development Corporation – Board Member
Tom Hooper – Chief Executive
PO Box 2962
P: 03 353 0039


Aoraki Development 
Mr Nigel Davenport – Chief Executive Officer
PO Box 560
03 687 2738


Chatham Island Enterprise Trust
Brian Harris – Chief Executive
PO Box 65
Chatham Islands
03 305 0066


Ashburton District Council
Andrew Dalziel – Chief Executive
Ashburton District Council
5 Baring Square West
Ashburton 7700
(03) 307 7700

​Enterprise North Canterbury
Heather Warwick – Chief Executive
PO Box 80
Kaiapoi 7644
03 327 3135


Selwyn District Council
David Ward, CEO
PO Box 90
Rolleston 7643
03 347 2800