Economic Development

Economic Development Strategy & Action Plan
Economic Development in the 21st Century

Economic Advantages for Businesses in the South Waikato

Economic Development Strategy & Action Plan

The purpose of this document is to provide clear, prioritised and measurable economic directions for the South Waikato District.

Council's Economic Strategy is currently under review and will be uploaded here once complete.

Economic Development in the 21st Century

With the 21st century now in full swing, we face an array of challenges in the form of economic, social and technological changes. The world economy is in transition and moving from the industrial age to the knowledge age. There are shifts in employment patterns as new industries replace old. There is a change in the ethnic and age composition of our communities. As a result of these changes, barriers to trade are coming down and we are now part of a global economy. At the same time, the application and convergence of computing and communication technologies has accelerated the development of global business and the global market place. Technology is now an integral part of the workplace, our homes, our community our very way of life.

There is a need for politicians, councils and business people to "do something" about raising the general wellbeing of its people in all aspects of life. The South Waikato District Council believes that it:

  • has a duty to care for its community.
  • has an obligation to understand the local community's needs.
  • can pull the community together for the betterment of the District.

The Council wants to create an environment that encourages economic and personal growth and development. It needs to build on the existing strengths and achievements of the education and training sectors. It needs to develop the social, economic, civic and cultural effectiveness of all sections of the community.

The focus on forestry, agriculture, and hydro developments in the South Waikato has led to the emergence of a strong manufacturing base. Around 28% of the District's workforce is employed in the manufacturing sector.

Links by road and rail to the Port of Tauranga have helped a number of firms develop their product's export potential, from forestry machinery and expert engineering services to clothing for overseas markets. Centrality is also a key advantage for the high-growth distribution sector. The Lichfield Dairy Factory is a prime example of economic development in the region.

The South Waikato District has plenty of space to grow. It has excellent water and waste water reticulation that could cope with a population of twice the size.

For more information please contact the Economic Development section.

Economic advantages for businesses in the District

  • The central location - Tauranga, Hamilton, Rotorua, and Taupo are all less than one hour's drive away. Manukau City in Auckland is only two hours.
  • Very low land and building costs in comparison with major centres.
  • Rental costs about 33% of Auckland levels.
  • User-friendly District Plan and planning process.
  • Commercially sympathetic District Council.
  • Available industrial zoned land, with facilities, ready for development.
  • Outstanding potential for green field industrial expansion.
  • A stable, versatile and skilled workforce.
  • The infrastructure to accommodate both industrial and residential expansion.
  • No traffic congestion (in fact, no traffic lights!).
  • Existing clusters within the forestry, dairy, and engineering industries, and the resulting peripheral industries and trades to service and complement all industrial needs.
  • Well developed heavy engineering support.
  • Situated on State Highway 1 and main national rail link with direct links to the ports of Tauranga and Auckland.
  • Further State Highway access to the King Country in the west and Bay of Plenty region in the east.
  • The ideal location to optimise central warehousing and distribution.
  • Full domestic and international banking facilities with most of the major trading banks represented.
  • A sealed all-weather airfield.
  • High quality gas and electricity supplies.
  • An abundant, pure, export quality water supply.
  • Environmentally sustainable, low cost landfills.


Tourism is a newly emerging industry in the South Waikato. The District is strategically located between the world famous Waitomo Caves to the west and the equally famous boiling mud pools of Rotorua to the east, with a major tourist bus route travelling daily in large numbers via Arapuni and Putaruru.

The Waikato River Trails is a growing tourist attraction. An ongoing project, visitors and residents enjoy a number of trails along the Waikato River; with more trails currently under construction. For more information on the Waikato River Trails visit their website Tirau, the northern visitor gateway to the District, has become a tourist destination in its own right. Thousands of domestic and international visitors pass through the District each day and the landmark dog-shaped Visitor Information Centre and sheep-shaped Wool and Craft Shop further support the development of tourism in the District.

Existing visitor attractions and activities in the District include the famous Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel, the corrugated iron art and antiques in Tirau, the Blue Springs and Te Waihou Walkway, the Talking Poles of Tokoroa and a range of national and international events.


Covering 182,000 hectares, the South Waikato has a diverse landscape of exotic and native forests, open pasture, lakes and streams.

One of the local water supplies is sourced from pristine springs. The quality of this water is recognised and appreciated by residents and local industries alike. It is bottled and distributed to national and international markets from Putaruru's natural water bottling plants which together account for 60% of New Zealand's bottled water.

The local economy is strongly dependent on the quality of the environment, which provides an opportunity to capitalise on the South Waikato's clean, green image.

The South Waikato's commitment to environmental sustainability is recognised by Council in its Strategic Plan, and by the recent commissioning of two state-of-the-art waste treatment plants in the District.

The South Waikato District Council aims to create a vibrant, participative, culturally aware and economically buoyant environment through the provision, justification and active promotion of opportunities to improve the way of life for all its people.​

Page reviewed: 26 May 2016 9:46am